SINGLE parent families make a quarter of all families in Scotland. It is a little-known fact that, among the many weird and wonderful awareness days, there is one dedicated to single parents.

Single Parents Day, which falls on Thursday, is a day to pay tribute to the strength and love offered by so many single parents to their children and to acknowledge just how tough yet rewarding being a single parent can be.

It is always a positive and celebratory day, with online and in-person events being organised across Scotland by OPFS and by our partners Fife Gingerbread, Parenting Northern Ireland, Gingerbread England and Wales and One Family Ireland.

This year’s theme is “recognition”, which values single parents’ role as sole carers and providers for their children, as well as recognising the need for wider support and structural change which addresses the inequality and poverty single parent families experience.

This year we are dedicating a full week to spotlighting the financial inequality faced by single parents, the need for childcare and the importance of good mental health and wellbeing, community and connection.

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In Scotland, 90% of single parents are women and gender inequality is a significant cause of the barriers facing many single parents.

By having to combine the role of sole carer and provider for their children and being unable to pool resources with another adult, single parents and their children are more likely to be in poverty than any other type of household – 38% compared to 24% of all children.

Most single mothers are in work and almost half are working part-time but there is a limited number of job opportunities that fit around caring responsibilities which would provide a viable route out of poverty.

Single parents have been disproportionately impacted by cuts to the UK social security system, from the benefit cap to the two-child limit, to the young parent penalty which scrapped a previous policy of paying parents under 25 the age of 25 the adult rate of benefits.

Stricter work requirements recently introduced by the UK Government now require single parents in receipt of Universal Credit to work up to 30 hours once their child turns three.

The National: mother and child

This is despite single mothers facing multiple barriers when looking for work or to increase their hours, the biggest of which is access to affordable and flexible childcare.

Our research shows that one in five single parents was unable to afford childcare and a Scottish Government survey found that

single parents were twice as likely as couple households to have difficulties covering the cost of childcare. Investing in childcare is essential to lifting children out of poverty. Only when the childcare services meet their needs will single parents have equal opportunities to enter and progress in employment. 

Caring for children is vital for a successful economy. Many single parents, especially those caring for disabled children, work in the care sector, receiving low wages due to the undervaluation of care work.

OPFS is proud to be part of a coalition of almost 50 organisations that wants to see care given its rightful recognition – an issue we are highlighting as part of Single Parents Week.

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A new “National Outcome” on valuing and investing in care, and all those who provide it would commit the Scottish Government to placing care at the very heart of Scotland’s future economy.

A recent survey on single parent discrimination by campaigners Single Parents Rights revealed that many single parents feel invisible due to a lack of understanding of their needs.

Changing societal attitudes towards single parent families requires not only cultural shifts but also policy changes that value and support single parents and their children reaching their full potential.

During this year’s Single Parent Week, we want to show there is community and support out there. Isolation is one of the hardest aspects of being a single parent.

We want to challenge stereotypes and send a clear message that people in Scotland and around the UK stand in support of the many single parents out there who are doing a fantastic job raising their kids.

For more information on One Parent Families Scotland and open days and events during Single Parents Week 2024 see