Single women with children struggle with poverty, here’s what can help change their circumstances




  • Aniya Faulcon

As a single mother of four, Tiffani Szabara finds virtual school challenging for her two oldest daughters.  They are (from left) Brinley, 4, first year Cadence, 6, Emmarie, 1, and seventh year Jaedlyn, 12.

Emma Lee / WHY

As a single mother of four, Tiffani Szabara finds virtual school challenging for her two oldest daughters. They are (from left) Brinley, 4, first year Cadence, 6, Emmarie, 1, and seventh year Jaedlyn, 12.

Air Date: September 21, 2022

Single women with children affected by poverty and homelessness often face obstacles and circumstances that make it difficult to get on their feet.

According to Finance Online, the decline in two-parent households has meant that households with single mothers and single fathers are widespread.

It is estimated that worldwide there are 100 million single mothers and approximately 19 million children under the age of 18 living with a single parent.

According to the Women’s Defense and Education Fund, single women head 60% of households in poverty.

Christina Duncan, Executive Director at Milagro House, and Stacie Blake, CEO of the YWCA Lancaster, joined us on Tuesday intelligent speaking to discuss the factors keeping women trapped in these circumstances, resolutions to pull them out of these circumstances and an upcoming event at Milagro House to address these issues.

The event at Milagro House is called An Evening of Wonders with Stephanie Land and will take place on October 25th at the Fulton Theater at 12 N. Prince St. Land is a New York Times bestselling author of Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay and a Mother’s Will to Survive, which was adapted for the Emmy-nominated Netflix series Maid. The series depicts the challenges of a mother navigating systems and services essential to the survival of those experiencing poverty and homelessness.

Duncan said some of the things that hold some women with children in situations like Maid’s are unhealthy relationships, the gender pay gap, access to affordable childcare and education, difficulty finding or being available for full-time jobs, low pay, and inadequate health benefits.

“So we find that women in poverty often grew up in poverty,” Duncan said. “It means not only breaking the cycle for the mother at this particular point in her life, but also breaking the cycle for generations to come. So as a community, as a society, we have a huge responsibility to figure out how to do that because it doesn’t just stop with the woman we work with, the benefits of the resources that she has have to go into the children who raises them so that they do not live in poverty.”

Blake said some of the ways we can change the circumstances that women with children in poverty deal with are by addressing income inequality and income equality and ending discrimination in hiring.

Both the YWCA Lancaster and Milagro House work every day to help women with children in poverty, and Duncan said the difference their work makes in the lives of families is what they call a miracle.

“We like to say that we offer women the opportunity to pursue dreams and in that journey create the miracle she may never have believed she could ever achieve,” said Duncan. “She never felt like she would be in a position where she could take care of her children, live sustainably, have a job that she enjoys, and also have the support of a community of people around her, that will help her stay stable. You go from surviving to thriving. It is beautiful to behold and we are honored to be a part of their journey.”




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