Mr Christopher de Souza asked the Minister for Social and Family Development what is being done to fight against the stigma that single mothers face and to support them in their challenges as single parents to create an environment of greater empathy and support for them to raise their children.
We recognise the challenges that single unwed parents face, especially in balancing dual responsibilities of raising their children and working. Our approach is to support them in their caregiving responsibilities and to extend Government benefits that support the growth and development of their children. These include subsidies for education, healthcare, childcare and infant care, and the foreign domestic worker levy concession.
2. In 2016, we extended the Child Development Account benefits to children of single unwed parents, including the $3,000 First Step Grant and matched co-savings from Government. In 2017, we also extended 16 weeks of maternity leave to single unwed mothers. These aim to support the child’s development and caregiving needs.
3. We also support and promote the provision of flexible work arrangements (FWAs) and other work-life harmony (WLH) practices for all workers, including single unwed parents, to help them better manage both their work and personal responsibilities. This includes support for employers through sharing best practices on implementing FWAs such as the ongoing Alliance for Action on WLH, as well as the recognition of progressive employers and practices through the Tripartite Standard (TS) on FWAs and TS on WLH.
4. Nonetheless, we acknowledge that single unwed parents may face greater challenges. Those who require financial assistance or social support can approach the Social Services Offices and Family Service Centres (FSCs), which are situated within the community. The Social Work practitioners in the FSCs provide professional case management, and can bring in other relevant agencies to address the family’s needs holistically.
5. Creating an environment of greater empathy and support for single unwed parents to raise their children requires a whole-of-society effort.