Low-income parents are neglecting own needs to provide for children, report shows

Low-income parents are neglecting own needs to provide for children, report shows
File photo

Parents with a low income are at times struggling to meet their children's educational needs.

That is just one of the findings of a new report, Stories of Struggle, from the Society of St. Vincent de Paul which shines a light on what it is like for families whose income is not enough to afford a minimum essential standard of living.

Housing and education costs were two of the biggest difficulties facing the 30 families who took part in the study.

For those parents, this means making sacrifices and neglecting their own needs in an effort to protect their children from the effects of inadequate income.

Parents also struggle with the stress and strain of constantly juggling bills, worrying about big expenses and not having the money for sufficient healthy food, school trips, children’s activities or birthday celebrations.

While each household’s experience was unique, three similar stories emerged.

“The analysis of the interviews indicated that households tended to fall into three groups, those who cannot make ends meet, those who struggle to make ends meet and those who can just about make ends meet but with difficulty," said Dr. Bernadette MacMahon DC, VPSJ Director.

"Having debt and arrears, facing extra costs due to illness or disability and living on a low income for a long period of time added to the difficulties of some families in making ends meet.

"On the other hand, having savings, access to good public transport and employment opportunities, and strong supports from families, friends and schools helped some families with low incomes to make ends meet, albeit with difficulty."

File photo
File photo

SVP Head of Social Justice, Caroline Fahey says some parents are finding it difficult to see a way out.

"This report clearly shows that families with an inadequate income work very hard to make ends meet and use a myriad of coping strategies to help manage the shortfall in income," she said.

"Dealing with income inadequacy requires discipline, resilience and sacrifice.

"But living on an inadequate income is very stressful and emotionally draining, and the longer it goes on, the more difficult it is for families to see a way out."

    Stories of Struggle also found that:

  • The high cost of housing was the single most cited driver of income inadequacy.
  • Housing was followed closely by unemployment and family break-up.
  • The inability to access affordable and good quality childcare forced families into unemployment, or restricted the hours they could work.
  • Most families interviewed could point to specific events that lowered total family income such as the death of an immediate family member, being ‘let-go’ from a job or having hours reduced, rent increases, a car accident, the birth of a child with special needs, a family separation or a parent’s illness.

Read the report here:


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