Spark shines brightly for single-parent families

Spark shines brightly for single-parent families
Single mother Tan Lie Pin (centre) and her son, Goh Zi Hao, celebrating his good PSLE performance with CDAC volunteer Annabel Koh. Madam Tan's family has benefited from Project Spark.

Low-income families, particularly those with single parents, need financial help.

"Single-parent families usually have less income, and the parent may not have much job skills if he or she tends to spend more time at home looking after children," said Ms Lily Susastri Mohd Yahya, head of sales and marketing at Mendaki Sense, the social enterprise wing of the Malay self-help group Mendaki.

To help single-parent families stand on their own feet financially, Project Spark (Successful Parents and Resilient Kids) was started in 2010. It has helped 1,453 single parents and 2,780 children to date.

Families generally need to have a household income of less than $2,500 a month to be eligible, although exceptions can be made on a case-by-case basis.

Mendaki Sense is the main coordinating organisation and runs Project Spark with the other three self-help groups here - the Chinese Development Assistance Council (CDAC), the Eurasian Association and the Singapore Indian Development Association.

Project Spark helps to provide vouchers from bookstore chain Popular and also refers parents to available childcare subsidies so they can work while their children attend pre-school.

Parents also get help to improve their chances of being employed. They receive training grants and are enrolled in courses covering areas such as interview skills, IT knowledge, financial literacy and personal grooming.

They can also attend motivational workshops to help them cope with the emotional challenges of being a single parent. For instance, they get tips on how to deal with loneliness. Families also receive NTUC shopping vouchers and ez-link cards to help with household and transport costs.

Temasek Cares, the philanthropic arm of investment company Temasek Holdings, has committed about $1.04 million to Project Spark over five years.

Food factory worker Tan Lie Pin, 41, a mother of two sons, aged 13 and 15, received help from Project Spark in 2010.

Madam Tan, who divorced in 2009, said in Mandarin: "I'm grateful for the help in covering our household and school expenses."

This article was first published on July 05, 2014.
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