This year’s Kids Count in Nebraska Report included a commentary on population changes in Nebraska to 2050 and their anticipated impacts on kids. This post is the final in the series on this commentary. To read more about the commentary check out our posts on an overview of the changes, increasing age, increasing diversity, and becoming more urban. Our last section examined how, we believe, in coming years Nebraska will have greater variation in family types.
While population projections on family structure are not available for future years, based on recent changes and data we can use what we know to make our best guess for the future. Since 1970, the “nuclear family” of a married couple with children has been moving towards more diverse family groups and households. Nationwide and in Nebraska family types are changing.
More and more families with children are single parent families, with increases seen in both single mother and single father headed families. While Nebraska families are predominantly married couple families, the large portion of families headed by single parents cannot be ignored.
Ultimately this means that more children will be raised by single parents, and more child care and social services will be needed to assist single parent families. The median income for single parent families is much lower than that of married couple families, meaning that more children are likely to live in economically vulnerable families. Since these families also do not have assistance from another parent in the house, the need for affordable and high quality access to child care is imperative to help single parents make ends meet.
Voices for Children recommends that Nebraska and the U.S. provides increased support for children in non-traditional family structures. The increased number of children living in single-parent families means that these families are likely to need additional supports in order to be successful. We need to ensure that these families in particular have access to affordable child care. Affordable quality child care options help parents know their children are safe and cared for while they are at work.