More than 2,800 single parents on income and disability assistance are already getting the supports they need to find employment and build a more secure future through the Single Parent Employment Initiative (SPEI), a program that provides skills training or work experience and wrap-around supports.
Today, Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation Michelle Stilwell met with three of the participants, two single fathers and a single mother, who were among the first to access the program, to discuss their experiences and hopes for the future. Donald Cameron and Heidi Ackermann are just about to graduate from training programs and Donald McCutcheon is halfway through a work experience program.
To date, the results are positive:
- 294 participants have already found employment.
- 314 SPEI participants are currently enrolled in skills training programs. The top five programs they are pursuing are nurse aide/orderly, social/community services worker, early childhood educator, secretary and medical secretary.
- 350 people have received short-term occupational certification in areas such as Emergency First Aid, SuperHost, Serving it Right, FoodSafe and basic computer training.
- A wage subsidy has been provided to 57 employers to provide work experience for 57 SPEI participants.
- SPEI clients who took wage subsidy training and then found employment have an average hourly wage of $14.67 and a maximum hourly wage of $36.35.
- While 90% of SPEI participants to date are single mothers, there are 269 single fathers participating in the program.
- On average, about 50 single parents join SPEI every week.
The Single Parent Employment Initiative removes barriers that single parents on assistance can face when returning to the workforce through up to 12 months of funded training for in-demand jobs or work experience placements, child care costs, transportation assistance and employment readiness workshops. Participants are able to remain on income assistance while enrolled in a training program. They will also continue to be supported in the first year of employment with child-care costs and supplemental health coverage which includes MSP premiums and PharmaCare coverage.
Michelle Stilwell, Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation –
“It’s wonderful to see so much interest in the Single Parent Employment Initiative. It has already exceeded our expectations. In just nine short months, more than 2,800 single parents on income or disability assistance have accessed the program and we hope that those numbers continue to rise.
“We are working with our partners to encourage more people to contact WorkBC and talk to them about this opportunity and how they can build a better future for themselves and their children.”
Heidi Ackermann, SPEI participant –
“I know that a lot of single parents on assistance are embarrassed. There’s a stigma to being on welfare. But I say, ‘Get over it!’ Move on with your life. Make a better life for you and your kids. You’re the only one who can do that and it can be done. It’s such a good feeling. Don’t be shy. SPEI can change your life and your kids will look up to you.”
Don Cameron, SPEI participant –
“The program has given me an amazing amount of help. There are a lot of obstacles that come with being a single father, especially a young single father, and being able to get help to overcome some of those boundaries-to allow myself to be successful at being a single father-gives me hope.”
Donald McCutcheon, SPEI participant –
“The financial buffer this program offers for motivated parents who want to work will enable them to become productive again in the workforce to the point the help is no longer needed as the parent becomes self-reliant again, as I am.”
- About 16,000 single parents receiving income assistance are eligible for SPEI.
- The Province will invest $24.5 million over five years for the Single Parent Employment Initiative.
- The provincial government has been working to increase uptake and awareness of the program through social media, participant profiles, stakeholder outreach, and information on the website.
- This month, the SPEI program will be highlighted in government's services information campaign, which features various programs and services that are helping make life more affordable for British Columbians, and featured here: www.gov.bc.ca
- For people just on income assistance, when children are included, single-parent families represent 44% of all recipients.
- On average, 90% of single parents on income and disability assistance are female.
- Children who grow up in an income-assistance family are at greater risk of living in low income when they become adults. Research suggests they may be three or more times more likely to become dependent on income assistance as an adult, compared to children with no – or limited exposure to – income assistance.
- For more information on SPEI and profiles of clients, visit www.gov.bc.ca/SingleParentEmploymentInitiative.