Parenting is a daunting task for most, if not all, people. It is more challenging for some because they have to face the challenges alone, either by choice or because of the circumstances beyond control, the solo parents.
Solo parents are those who have the sole responsibility of rearing their children regardless of marital status and based on the National Statistics Office (NSO), there are about 14 million solo parents in the Philippines. The increasing number of solo parents prompted the national government to pass the Republic Act 8972, or the Solo Parent’s Welfare Act of 2000. While being a solo parent can be difficult, the passage of RA 8972 has somehow made it rewarding.
RA 8972 or the Solo Parent’s Welfare provides for benefits and privileges to solo parents and their children. It aims to develop a comprehensive package of social development and welfare services for solo parents and their children to be carried out by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), as the lead agency, and various government agencies including NSO and other related NGOs.
This law covers fathers and mothers who are raising their children by themselves, either because of the death of a spouse, abandonment, separation or even those children as a result of rape. This law also considers as a solo parent those who are left to care for children not their own, such as nephews or nieces, or godchildren. So long as a person is solely responsible for the upbringing of a child, he is considered a solo parent under this act.
Under RA 8972, people who are eligible for the benefits should be able to present a solo-parent ID to be able to claim the said benefits. To get a solo-parent ID, they should present the following documents to their local Social Welfare and Development Office: (1) Barangay Certification certifying solo parent’s residency in the barangay for the last six months and (2) Income-tax return or any document that will establish the income level of the solo parent. Once the social workers received and verified the documents presented, they will be given a case number in the logbook of Registry of Solo Parents. Once completed, they will give the applicant a solo-parent ID, which is valid for a year and renewable. A change of status or circumstances of the parent claiming benefits under this act shall terminate his/her eligibility.
The comprehensive package of services for solo parents includes livelihood, self-employment and skills development, psychological, educational, health and housing services and the employment-related benefits such as the parental leave.
The parental leave refers to a 7-day leave benefits granted to a solo parent to enable said parent to perform parental duties and responsibilities where physical presence is required under the Civil Service Commission (CSC) Memorandum Circular No. 8, series of 2000. It is non-cumulative and can be availed only during the current year and only granted to those employees who have rendered government service for at least one (1) year, whether continuous or broken.
As a solo-parent of a 5-year old boy who is now at his kindergarten level. After an eight-hour job, I must return home to complete chores, cook dinner and spend quality time with my child. There is no one to share with these responsibilities, so everything rests with me. Most everyone would agree that single parenting is a hard gig. Not only is there an emotional aspect to it, but the workload is intense. I have to do extra mile so as not to let my son feel that he has no father and must always be there to all the important milestones of his life as well as attendance in his school programs. Thus, I am very much grateful of the additional 7-day parental leave from the Solo Parent’s Welfare Act, because I would be able to attend personal milestones such as his birthday, communion, graduation and other similar events, perform parental obligations such as enrollment and attendance in school programs, and be able attend to medical, social, spiritual and recreational needs of my son. I would be able to perform parental duties and responsibilities where my physical presence is required.
Being a solo parent has at times been difficult and demanding, but it also has great rewards.
PAMELA L. ASTUDILLO
Administration Assistant III