When Parents Go Solo, Can They Find Help in Law?

In this day and age, some segments of society still look down on single parents.

Early this May, Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo, an educator, activist and social worker, and single mom, was at the receiving end of Senator Tito Sotto III’s bad joke. During her confirmation hearing at the Senate, Sotto told her, “In the street language, when you have children and you are single, ang tawag doon ay ‘naano lang.’ (just got knocked up)"

People took to social media to criticize the senator for the cruel and sexist remark. He eventually apologized, saying it was just a joke.

But for many, the social reality of single parenthood is no laughing matter.

When a partner goes to the after-life (sumakabilang-buhay) or flies to another nest (sumakabilang-bahay), or is imprisoned, the remaining spouse is left to raise their kids alone.

When parents go solo, they primarily rely on relatives and friends for support. But can they seek assistance from government? Can they find help in the law?

Solo Parents’ Welfare Act

The Solo Parents’ Welfare Act (Republic Act No. 8972) is the law that provides benefits and privileges for solo parents and their children. It defines solo parents are men or women left alone with the responsibility of parenthood for any of the following reasons:

(1) if a woman is raped or a victim of other crimes against chastity and she keeps and raises her child;

(2) death of a spouse;

(3) spouse is detained or serving at least one year sentence for a crime;

(4) spouse is certified physically or mentally incapacitated;

(5) legal or de facto separation for at least one year, with custody of the children;

(6) marriage is declared null or is annulled with custody of the children;

(7) abandonment by spouse of at least one year;

(8) unmarried but is rearing his/her children;

(9) if one solely provides parental care and support to a child or children; and

(10) assumes the role of head of family as a result of the death, abandonment, disappearance or prolonged absence of the parents.

Solo parents are required to apply for an identification card (ID) with their local government units in order for them to avail of the benefits under the law.

Who are the children referred to under the law?

“Children” refers to those living with and dependent upon the solo parent for support who are unmarried, unemployed and not more than 18 years old. It also refers to those over 18 but incapable of self-support due to mental and/or physical defect/disability.

What are the benefits provided by law to solo parents?

Comprehensive package of social development and welfare services, which includes livelihood development, counseling services, parent effectiveness services, critical incidence stress debriefing, special projects for individuals in need of protection. (Sec. 5)

Flexible working schedule are to be provided by employers, provided that the same shall not affect individual and company productivity. (Sec. 6)

Work Discrimination is prohibited against any solo parent on account of his/her status. (Sec. 7)

Parental Leave of not more than seven working days every year for any solo parent employee who has rendered service of at least one year. This is in addition to leave privileges under existing laws. (Sec. 8)

What assistance is available for poor solo parents?

Solo parents earning below the poverty threshold as set by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) and subject to the assessment of the DSWD shall be eligible for the following assistance:

  • Educational Benefits and privileges – scholarship programs for elementary, high school, college, and technical/vocational education for qualified solo parents and their children, as well as non-formal education programs appropriate for them. (Sec. 9);
  • Housing benefits – allocation in housing projects and provision of liberal terms of payment in government low-cost housing projects. (Sec. 10);
  • Medical assistance – to be provided by the Department of Health and local governments through public hospitals and medical centers.

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