Children of single parents disproportionately affected by poverty, YWCA says

A new report has found that nearly one in five B.C. children live in poverty — and advocates say the problem is even worse for children of single parents.

Report finds poverty 4 times more likely for children living in single-parent homes

Nearly one in five B.C. children live in poverty, according to a new report, which also found children of single parents are hit especially hard. (CBC)

A new report has found that nearly one in five B.C. children live in poverty — and advocates say the problem is even worse for children of single parents.

A report from child advocacy group First Call found about 153,000 children in the province live below the poverty line and that children in single-parent households are four times as likely to be below that line.

Chantelle Krish, director of advocacy, says it's the result of an interrelated set of socio-economic factors, with housing affordability at the centre.

"There's an understanding of the high cost of living in this province, specifically across Metro Vancouver," Krish said.

"But for single mothers, single parent families, I don't think those challenges are really well understood at a broad-based level."

Barriers to workforce entry

The YWCA runs 10 housing communities for single mothers across Metro Vancouver, but Krish says the massive waiting lists show it's not nearly enough.

One big compounding factor, Krish says, is that single parents looking to enter the workforce often have trouble finding affordable childcare.

"It's actually cheaper for them to stay at home and be on income assistance, which many of them don't want to do, then actually be able to pay for childcare and that's the major barrier to breaking that cycle of poverty," she said.

In its report, First Call's recommendations include $10-a-day childcare and a $15-an-hour minimum wage.

Isolation also an issue

Another big problem for single parents, according to Krish, is social isolation.

The YWCA has run single parent support groups for over 20 years in Metro Vancouver, and Krish says they have recently expanded throughout the Lower Mainland due to the demand they are seeing.

"We were seeing single moms drive all the way out from Aldergrove and Abbotsford to Metro Vancouver to attend these groups," she said.

Services provided in the groups include education around things like budgeting, financial literacy, health and nutrition, but their major benefit, Krish says, is access to a network of other single parents.

With files from CBC Radio One's The Early Edition.