Chelan-Douglas Trends | Single parent families with children

By: Chelan Douglas Trends

Source: Wenatchee World

All families are different. Just like individuals, there is not one family that is exactly the same.

So, we must be careful applying generalities to any family, and especially families where there are single parents with children.

Although we cannot apply generalities to all situations, we do know single parent families with children face different challenges than families with two parents. We must keep in mind there are millions of positive, productive, and successful people who have come from single parent families.

In fact, two of our last three U.S. presidents grew up in single parent homes. Still, this doesn’t discount the difficulties and challenges single parent families struggle with every day.

Consider looking at the family as a team, or a unit that works together and supports each other through good times and bad. In the nuclear family (a wife, husband, and children), everyone has their role. These do not have to be the gender-stereotypical roles, but each person plays their part toward a functioning family.

According to the U.S. Census, the nuclear family is the only family category to decline in numbers over the last decade and did so by 1.25 million families.

According to the New York Times, 30 years ago 20 percent of all newborns coming into the world were born outside of wedlock while the current rate is 41 percent.

Of the 41 percent of all newborns entering the world out of wedlock, 10 percent of these occur to mothers who have a college education while 60 percent of these births occur to mothers with a high school degree or less.

With such increases in the number of single parent families, it becomes even more important to track this trend.

For whatever the reason a family is led by a single parent, there is more responsibility and pressure on the single parent to keep the family functioning, with a whole lot less support than in a two-parent family.

A one-parent family has a one-parent income but still may have many of the same household bills as a two-parent family. They are less likely to buy a home or upgrade into a new home than two-parent families. Finding, affording, and even transporting children to and from quality child care can be more difficult with the time restraints of a working single parent. A single mother might find it difficult and uncomfortable talking to their son about things a father would teach, and the same for a single father with his daughter.

Human service agencies, developers, and other groups throughout Chelan and Douglas counties can benefit from knowing the share of the community that falls into this category because it enables them to be better prepared to serve the needs of these specific types of families as well as the entire community.

This indicator measures the share of single parents, living with their children, in Chelan and Douglas counties, both individually and combined. Washington State and the U.S. are offered as benchmarks.


This information comes from a survey, so the data presented are estimates.

The ACS uses a combination of single- and multi-year rolling averages for this indicator. Estimates are either one year or five years, depending on the population size of an area.

Specifically, ACS one-year estimates are used for the combined counties, Chelan County, the U.S. and for Washington state. Douglas County, the city of Wenatchee and the city of East Wenatchee use ACS five-year estimates. The year displayed on the graph represents the final year in the multi-year estimate.

The Institute for Public Policy and Economic Analysis is a multi-college program at Eastern Washington University. The Institute, staff and students, gathered the statistical data, wrote the explanations and designed the Chelan-Douglas Trends website: