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Women Builds Change Lives: Caretaking and Providing

Updated: Apr 25, 2023

The only home Joyce could afford to rent for herself and her six children was forty minutes from where she worked and where her kids went to school. Like so many other single mothers, Joyce found herself in a difficult juggle, trying to balance her role as both the lone caretaker and lone financial provider for her family. To keep her schedule flexible for her children and still make enough money to provide for her family, Joyce worked two-part time jobs.

Women are more likely than men to care for children and elderly or disabled family members, adding complexity to their work-life balance. For many of these caretakers, especially those without the support of a partner, managing these two responsibilities too often ends up having to make incredible sacrifices. For Joyce, it was having to live on the fringes of town, hoping that her car would start each day to take her family where they needed to go.

A Habitat home made a huge difference for Joyce and her family. With an affordable mortgage, she was able to accept an offer for one full-time job and still have enough to pay her bills and save for her children's futures.

8.6 million American households are headed by single mothers, while only 2.6 million are headed by single fathers. Statistically speaking, a single father's experience is different than that of single mother Single fathers are more likely than single mothers to be living with a cohabiting partner (41% versus 16%). They also, on average, have higher incomes than single mothers and are far less likely to be living at or below the poverty line—24% versus 43%.

As a single mother, something as basic and expected as being able to work can get complicated. As the sole caregiver, single parents have less flexibility in their work schedules and may suffer from lost wages - or even loss of a job - when a child or relative is sick. Serving as a caregiver for a family member makes the traditional nine to five schedule difficult, making full-time work difficult, if not impossible. Yet most employers require full-time status to be eligible for health benefits - something caregivers may need for those that they are caring for.

Even when outside care is an option, women bear the burden more so than men of the lack of affordable child care choices. In a 2018 survey mothers were 40 percent more likely than fathers to report that they had personally felt the negative impact of child care issues on their careers and nearly a third of parents who have a fee for child care say that the costs have caused a financial problem for their household.

In North Carolina, the average annual cost of infant care is $9,480— $790 per month. A minimum wage worker in North Carolina would need to work full time for 33 weeks, or from January to August, just to pay for child care for one infant.

But there is a way to alleviate some of the difficulties associated with juggling all of these responsibilities: a decent, affordable mortgage. Just as you saw with Joyce, an affordable home gives single parents the flexibility to spend more on other necessities, like outside child care. This then leads to opening other doors of opportunities, such as full-time employment or access to education. It means having more money to spend on caring for those who need care.

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