A Study on the Support policy of Single-parent’s Self-Sufficiency in Seoul
Research Fellow, Seoul Foundation of Women & Family
The purpose of the study is to efficiently develop the Seoul Metropolitan Government’s single parent’s self-sufficiency support policy. The Seoul Metropolitan government has established policies aiming to achieve livelihoods stabilization and assist self-sufficiency based on 「Seoul Metropolitan Government Ordinance on the Support of single-parent family」 and policies are proceeded by the Seoul Single Parent Family Support Center in large part.
The existing support policy based on financial assistance has shown low efficiency and failed to improve economic status of single parent. Furthermore, poverty level of female-headed single parent families is deepening. Previous studies highlighted the need for multi-dimensional supports including monetary support, emotional support and strengthened social relationships in order to achieve self-sufficiency. In addition, self-sufficiency cannot be defined as exiting poverty and has to be taken as a process, not as a complete result. Regarding aforementioned problems, the Study aims to enhance the efficiency of Seoul Metropolitan government’s single parent self-sufficiency policy by looking into multi-dimensional support status of single parent families, hindrances of self-sufficiency, support policy and subjective perception of self-sufficiency.
Group activists and 15 single parents participated in the interview survey and 347 single parents participated in the survey. The survey result showed differences on economic activity, mental and physical health, social discrimination experience and policy requirements based on the gender of single parents, causes of the single parenting, the duration of single parenting and income level. Single-mother families showed significant income level decrease and economic status has weakened in case the family formed as a single parenthood for the long-term. Higher income level led to low self-perception on health status and it has to do with longer working hour to maintain income level. Unmarried single-parent family showed significantly high experience of depression; however, overall group generally experienced depression and treatment was recommended in 26.5% of respondents. Female-headed single parent families responded gaining stable workplace and maintaining the cost of living is the most important factor for self-sufficiency. Male-headed single parent families responded childcare support program and work-life balance is the most crucial factor for self-sufficiency.
The interview survey showed respondents highlighted the importance of process, mutual relations, self-control when defining self-sufficiency. Self-sufficiency is not completed by exiting from welfare, and exiting welfare has to be the starting point of self-sufficiency. In this regard, self-sufficiency support policy has to support process for preparing self-sufficiency. Housing has to be the basic policy that should be supported and not regarded as an option. The interview survey showed there is a severe discrimination among the government employee. Social discrimination psychologically distresses single parents and acts as a factor that disturbs self-sufficiency. The importance of capacity empowerment, such as self-help group meetings, education has been pointed out and tailored mentoring for single parenthood, housework support service gained positive feedback.
In the conclusion, the Study suggested integrative viewpoint of self-sufficiency and self-sufficiency as a process based on the support policy of single parent’s self-sufficiency and proposed the principal of subjective participation, integrative support and discrimination elimination. The study suggested two policy measures, which is arranging social safety net, detailed safety measures and reducing social discrimination. The study suggested detailed policy goals. In order to support single parent’s self-sufficiency in the long-term, a policy for reducing discrimination within universal caregiver model is required.
*Key words: single-parent, multi-dimensional self-sufficiency, self-sufficiency as life process, preparation for self-sufficiency