Disability does not discriminate. It can affect people regardless of age, sex, race, family structure or socioeconomic status. The financial impact of raising a child with a disability can be challenging, and that burden can be greatly increased in single-family households.
For many families, finding support for their child can be difficult, and that can be exponentially compounded in single-parent households when primary financial and parenting responsibilities fall to one individual. In single-parent households, the primary caregiver is also often the breadwinner. This double-impact can stretch already lean practical and emotional resources. If a child in a single-parent home is also dealing with a disability, these challenges may seem even more intense.
Today, DCCI has partnered with Ann-Marie Ricketts, founder of S.W.I.M (Single Women In Motherhood), to talk to us about her organization, the development of S.W.I.M, how single-mothers can be adversely affected by the increased stress that comes with a single-parent household and, most importantly, what supports are available through groups like S.W.I.M.
We are delighted to share Ann-Marie’s story and to bring light to some of the specific stressors that affect single-parent homes. If you are a single parent with children, and struggling with the compounded difficulties of managing a disability for yourself or your child, please read on! We will include resources in addition to what S.W.I.M offers.
Finally, we would like to thoroughly thank Ann-Marie and everyone at S.W.I.M for taking the time to be interviewed about the wonderful work they are doing.
Tell me a little about your Organization S.W.I.M. How did it start?
The history leading up to S.W.I.M. focuses on one woman with strength and determination to address the need that was raised by many single moms. Ann Marie Ricketts was raised by a single mother in Toronto. She, herself, was a single mother for over 13 years. She moved to London and has successfully raised three children on her own.
S.W.I.M was conceived in her living room, after watching a TV show featuring Canada’s multi-billionaire, Michael Lee-Chin. He became an inspiration to Ann-Marie and taught her that crisis equals opportunity or danger. She was determined to turn the crisis of a crushed wrist and the inability to work into an opportunity. With that determination, S.W.I.M was born in 2002.
Then S.W.I.M recognized the same cry coming from single mothers and wanted to help them to achieve financial independence, so family stability can be created.
What are some of the biggest challenges you see single mothers facing?
One of the biggest challenges single mothers face is that we aren’t Having No One To Turn To. Single moms, we work hard! We wear many hats: A mother is a teacher when the kids have homework, a chef when it’s dinner time, a chauffeur when there’s a place to be, a personal shopper when there’s a birthday party, a referee when siblings fight, a nurse when our little ones have a fever…and the list goes on.
Do you see many mothers raising children with special needs, such as ADD/ADHD, Autism, or Learning Disabilities?
What additional challenges do you see these mothers facing? Personal challenges, practical challenges, financial challenges?
I see single mothers facing challenges every day!
-Stress and Anxiety about money. On top of all these jobs, someone has to bring home enough money to pay for rent and food. When you’re a single mom, there’s only one of you! We know the stress is very high.
-Losing a sense of self. After spending the day working full time, and then being on Mommy-duty at home, it’s easy to forget about taking care of yourself. Single moms must be psychologically and financially stable, to provide a healthy and harmonious environment to their children. Balancing professional responsibilities and parenting is a major problem faced by single mothers.
– It is not enough:
Most single mothers feel sick of the motherhood and guilt rhetoric —especially working single mothers. They often feel like they’re coming up short when it comes to doing enough for their kids. Not to mention their boss and extended family, and yes, of course, their community.
As single mothers, they have to do all of these things alone, and it’s not always easy. S.W.I.M. recognizes the unique challenges of being a single mom, which is why we are here for them.
What are some of the strategies that S.W.I.M can offer single mothers who may be going through challenges raising children with special needs?
- Some strategies are to find other support groups
- Play music to bring calmness
- Advice for Yoga
- Our Let’s talk about it program
- Life Coaching programs
What kinds of external factors can benefit single Mothers? (Ex: support networks, additional financial resources, self-care, etc?)
External factors can benefit single Mothers: For example, SWIM has programs that are committed to empowering single mothers to control their destiny, working, and developing their full financial, emotional, personal growth, self-worth, and intellectual potential. We have a program Let’s Talk About It, one support network for single Moms and is online too now. The Child Care Exchange Program is a free drop off centre, which allows single mothers to take some “me” time or self-care.
During this time, mothers can get the chance to de-stress, nap, do the laundry, shop, run errands, or anything they would like. It is important that mothers take some time to themselves and this is a great opportunity for them to do so and know that their kids are in a safe environment. This program is a Pay It Forward program. Mothers are expected to take turns in helping with the program, whether it is providing snacks, helping with sign-in, or staying and helping out with the activities.
Many people Qualify for supports like the Child Disability Tax Credit. If a Single Mother wanted to apply for one of these Tax Credits, what are some of the best supports we can offer them?
In this case to apply for support like the Child Disability Tax Credit. If a Single Mother wanted to apply for one of these Tax Credits, or similar requests S.W.I.M could help single mothers in filling out forms, documentation or help in answering the questions about it.
Anything else you’d like to add, for all the single parents reading this?
Rest if you must, but don’t quit.
How can people interested in S.W.I.M reach you?
People that are interested in S.W.I.M can connect with us through our website, Social Media Channels or alternatively on our phone number (519) 432-5454
Ann-Marie’s organization S.W.I.M provides single mothers with pay-it-forward child-care programming, talk-therapy and social support services, and strategies to help single-mothers deal with the struggles and challenges that come with the combined stress of financial and child-care burden. Taking care of one’s emotional, mental and psychological stress is crucial to being able to be present for the ones you care for. But the support that single-parent families can get does not have to stop there. If you are struggling with a disabling condition or your child is struggling from a disabling condition, you may be eligible to receive additional governmental assistance. This assistance can come in the form of a tax credit or payment. In cases where retroactive payments are required, a family may be able to claim up to $40,000 to help reduce financial hardship.
Disability Credit Canada has helped thousands of Canadians and their families get the supports they qualify for. We offer free assessments, which you can access anytime by contacting us.
You can access our Disability Credit Tax Calculator to help get an estimate of what benefits you may qualify for or If you are interested in applying for the Disability Tax Credit, or the Child Disability Tax Credit, we provide FREE resource guides to walk you through the process step-by-step.
Single-Parents do not have to tackle the challenges of parenthood and running a household by themselves, especially if they or one of their children suffers from an impairment. Supports exist to ensure that no one ever has to feel alone. From wonderful organizations like Ann-Marie and S.W.I.M, working on the front lines to help women tackle the emotional and psychological stress, to Government Funded supports to ease financial burdens, there are structures for help and support.
We would like to thank Ann-Marie and everyone at S.W.I.M for sharing more about their organization with us!