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Single Parent Statistics
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Single Parent Statistics

The following statistics were generated from the "Single Parent Ministry Training Manual," (c) by Larry Burkett and Brenda Armstrong and added to over time. 

Statistics are hard numbers that can be interpreted various ways. This list is provided simply to indicate the need for ministry to this particular group of people. Our purpose for providing this information is that you will use these numbers to bring the problem to light so that the church can build an effective ministry. Regardless of the statistics, we recognize that there are successful single parents, custodial and non-custodial, and they usually become successful when they have the love and support of a local church.

Single Parent Households
  • In 1998, 26 percent all families with children were headed by single parents.
    Press Release cb98-228.html, U.S. Census Bureau, www.census.gov, April 29, 1999.
  • “Most single-parent children live in metropolitan areas (14.5 million), and six in 10 of them (9.2 million) are in cities with populations of 1 million or more.”
    “Children of single parents – how they fare,” Census Brief CENBR/97-1, September 1997.
  • In 1998, an estimated 42 percent of all custodial parents had never married, 38 percent had divorced, only 5 percent were widowed, and about 15 percent were separated.
    “Census Bureau Facts for Features,” U.S. Census Bureau, www.census.gov, April 29, 1999.

Single Mother Households

  • The number of single mother households with children under the age of 18 has remained constant at 9.8 million since 1995.
    There are 11.6 million single mother households with children under 21.
    Press Release cb98-228.html, U.S. Census Bureau, www.census.gov, April 29, 1999.
  • In 1998, 7.7 million (78 percent) of single mothers maintained their own households. Most of these mothers (69 percent) had no other adult in the home to help them.
    Press Release cb00-ff.06, U.S. Census Bureau, www.census.gov, May 3, 2000.
  • The majority of single mothers are adults; only 11 percent are under the age of 25.
    “The Faces of Single Parenting,” Single-Parent Family, Focus on the Family, October 1994.

Single Father Households

  • In 1998, 3.1 million children lived with their fathers only.
    “Two-Parent Versus Single-Father Families,” U.S. Census Bureau Public Information Office, June 6, 2000.
  • In 1998, 85 percent of custodial single fathers maintained their own households. Over half (55 percent) of these fathers had at least one other adult in their homes to help them out.
    Press Release cb99-03, U.S. Census Bureau, www.census.gov, June 06, 2000.
  • In 1998, 44 percent of single fathers were divorced, 35 percent had never married, about 16 percent were separated, and 5 percent were widowed.
    “Two-Parent Versus Single-Father Families,” U.S. Census Bureau Public Information Office, June 6, 2000.
  • Of single fathers raising their own children in 1998, 11 percent cared for three or more children.
    “Two-Parent Versus Single-Father Families,” U.S. Census Bureau Public Information Office, June 6, 2000.

Single Grandparent Households

  • In 1997, 340,000 grandmothers were raising their grandchildren without grandfathers or the children’s parents present.
    Press Release cb00-ff.03, U.S. Census Bureau, www.census.gov, February 23,2000.

Race

  • In 1998, 36 percent of Hispanic children and 14 percent of white, non-Hispanic children lived in single parent homes. Although 64 percent of single parent households are white, nearly 64 percent of all black children lived in single parent homes.
    “America’s Children: Key National Indicator of Well-Being, 1999,” Forum on Child and Family Statistics, childstats.gov, July 9, 1999.
  • In 1998, 83 percent of the custodial single fathers were white.
    African-American and Hispanics each comprised about 13 percent of the total.
    “Two-Parent Versus Single-Father Families,” U.S. Census Bureau Public Information Office, June 6, 2000.

Income/Poverty

  • In 1998, most (about 77 percent) single mothers worked. Of mothers with children under age one, almost 60 percent worked.
    “Employment Characteristics of Families in 1998,” News Release May 25, 1999, U.S. Bureau of Labor.
  • In 1998, the median income for single mother households was $18,000; for single father households the income was $30,000.
    (The median income for married-couple families with children was $57,000.)
    Note: this does not include noncustodial single parents or those who are not householders.
    “Historical Income Tables–Families,” Bureau of the Census, www.census.gov, Last revised October 4, 1999.
  • In 1997, about 2 in 10 single-father-headed families were poor.
    “Two-Parent Versus Single-Father Families,” U.S. Census Bureau Public Information Office, June 6, 2000.
  • In 1995, nearly six of 10 children living with mothers only were near the poverty line.
    About 45 percent of children raised by divorced mothers and 69 percent by never-married mothers lived in or near poverty, which was $13,003 for a family of three in 1998.
    Census Brief CENBR/97-1, Bureau of the Census, www.census.gov, September 1997.
  • In 1997, most of the children living in single parent homes (76 percent) had at least one parent working full time all year.
    “America’s Children: Key National Indicators of Well-being, 1999,” www.childstats.gov, July 9, 1999.
  • Women who are divorced are 300 percent more likely to file for bankruptcy.
    “Women Rank First in Bankruptcy Filings,” by Christine Dugas, USA Today, June 21, 1999.

Child Support

  • One third of custodial mothers and one third of custodial fathers do not have a child support order because they did not pursue child support or they could not locate the absent parent.
    Current Population Reports, U.S. Census Bureau, www.census.gov, (P23-189), June 2000.
  • In 1996, eight million (58 percent) of all custodial parents had child support awards—61 percent for mothers and 40 percent for fathers.
    Current Population Reports, U.S. Census Bureau, www.census.gov, March 2000.
  • In 1995, 70 percent of mothers and 57 percent of fathers due payments actually received at least a portion of the amount they were owed.
    The average received by mothers was $3,767 and by fathers $3,370 per year.
    Current Population Reports, U.S. Census Bureau, www.census.gov, March 2000.
  • In 1995, 39 percent (2.7 million) of custodial parents received all the child support due.
    Press Release Cb99-77, April 23, 1999, U.S. Department of Commerce News, July 2, 1999.
  • Noncustodial parents who were supposed to pay child support (7 million) were more likely to pay if they had either joint custody or visitation rights.
    Of those who had these rights, 74 percent paid.
    Of those who did not have these rights, only 35 percent paid.
    Press Release Cb99-77, April 23, 1999, U.S. Department of Commerce News, July 2, 1999.

Welfare

  • By May 1999, between 61 percent and 87 percent of adults leaving public assistance had gotten jobs. Most still earn below the poverty level and are often without benefits.
    Between 19 percent and 30 percent of those who leave welfare find it necessary to return to the rolls.
    “Most Find Jobs After Leaving Welfare,” by Judith Havemann, Washington Post, May 27.
  • After leaving welfare, full-time workers earn about $8,840, far below the $16,050 per-year poverty line for a family of four.
    “Fast Food and Welfare Reform,” by Joseph Shapiro and Barbra Murray, U.S. News, December 5, 1997.
  • Although they make up just 12 percent of the population, black people represent a larger share (37 percent) of the national welfare pool.
    In the Dakotas, American Indians constituted 56 to 77 percent of the welfare roll in 1999.
    “Whites Beat Minorities off Welfare,” by Laura Meckler, Washington Post, March 29.
  • In Ottawa County, Michigan, every able-bodied welfare recipient is working–the first county in America to achieve this goal. Much of its success is due to the active involvement of churches, community groups, and neighbors.
    “The Shocking Success of Welfare Reform,” by Steven Hayward, Policy Review #87, January-February, 1998.

Divorce

  • Only 25 to 30 percent of all divorces are initiated by the husband.
    “Real Women Stay Married,” by Susan Orr, Washington Watch, June 2000.
  • Only 11 percent of the adult population are currently divorced.
    Of all adults, 25 percent have experienced at least one divorce.
    Christians divorce at a higher rate (27 percent) than non-Christians (24 percent).
    “Christians Are More Likely to Experience Divorce Than Are Non-Christians,” The Barna Research Group, Ltd., December 21, 1999.

Unwed Pregnancy

  • In 1999, 41 percent of all first births were born to premarital parents.
    Of females ages 15 to 29, 53 percent of first children were conceived out of wedlock.
    Press-Release (CB99-213), U.S. Census Bureau’s Public Information Office, December 20, 1999.
  • Of never married women in their 30s, 40 percent have had a child.
    “Single Mothers, Many Faces,” by Sara Eckel, American Demographics, May 1999.
  • One in five never-married women ages 15 to 44 are mothers.
    Press Release cb97-192.html, U.S. Census Bureau, www.census.gov, April 29, 1999.
  • The overall teen birth rate dropped 15 percent from 1991 to 1997.
    Less than a third of all births in 1997 were to teens.
    “Teens Less Likely to Have Second Baby,” HHS News, www.hhs.gov, April 17, 2000 (released 12/17/98).
  • Two-thirds of infants born to teen mothers were fathered by adult men over age 20.
    “A Few Facts About Illegitimacy,” Family Research Council, www.frc.org, January 1997.
  • Fifty-three percent of high school girls say it is worthwhile to have a child out of wedlock.
    “Snapshot of America,” Rutgers University study, The Barna Report, July-Sept. 1999.

Fatherless Children

  • An estimated 25 million (40 percent) children are growing up without fathers in the home.
    “American Agenda,” World News Tonight with Peter Jennings, December 13, 1994.
  • About 13 million (50 percent) children without fathers in the home have never even been in their fathers’ homes.
    “American Agenda,” World News Tonight with Peter Jennings, December 13, 1994.

Associated Risks

  • Boys living in a fatherless home are two to three times more likely to be involved in crime, drop out of school, and get divorced. Girls living in a fatherless home are two to three times more likely to become pregnant teenagers and have their marriages end in divorce.
    “Heading Toward a Fatherless Society,” by Barry Kliff, MSNBC News, www.msnbc.com, March 31, 1999.
  • Children of divorce do worse academically, are more prone to delinquency, are more vulnerable to the appeal of substance abuse, are more likely to bear a child out of wedlock, and are less equipped to enter marriage themselves.
    “Real Women Stay Married,” by Susan Orr, Washington Watch, June 2000.
  • Almost 70 percent of young men in prison grew up without fathers in the home.
    “American Agenda,” World News Tonight with Peter Jennings, January 12, 1995.

Church Involvement

  • Only 5 percent of the single parent family population attend church regularly.
    The Hidden Mission Field, by Theresa McKenna, Winepress Publishing, 1999.

Single Parent Needs

The following needs were identified as a result of the research conducted to develop the Single Parent Ministry Training series. See Products section of this Web site for more information about the series, which shows churches how they can meet these needs through simple ministries to full-scale ministries.

The needs are listed in order of the most frequent response given in our surveys. Spiritual and emotional support is listed last but was indicated often along with the area of need.

1.       Obtaining affordable, quality child care.

2.       Obtaining an affordable, safe car; caring for the car.

3.       Affordable, safe housing options.

4.       Support for welfare-to-work parents.

5.       Help with budgeting and money management.

6.       Education, job training, and career options.

7.       Affordable, quality professional services and medical care.

8.       Mentoring for parents and children.

9.       Food and clothing resources.

10.   Spiritual and emotional support.

 
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