Single Mother Statistics in Rhode Island

Last Updated on November 5, 2023 by Meghan

Introduction

Rhode Island is the smallest state in the United States by area, but it has a rich history and culture. It was one of the original 13 colonies that declared independence from Britain in 1776, and it was the last to ratify the U.S. Constitution in 1790. Rhode Island is known for its scenic coastline, its diverse economy, and its progressive social policies.


One of the groups that contributes to the social and economic fabric of Rhode Island is single mothers. Single mothers are women who are raising children without a spouse or partner, either by choice or by circumstance. Single mothers face many challenges and opportunities in their daily lives, such as balancing work and family, accessing affordable and quality child care, education, health care, and housing, and providing for their children’s well-being and development.

This article will provide an overview of the demographics, characteristics, and outcomes of single mothers and their children in Rhode Island, based on the latest census data available. The article will also compare Rhode Island to the national averages and to other states in the New England region.

Demographics

According to the 2020 U.S. Census, there were 10.9 million one-parent family groups with a child under the age of 18 in the United States, of which 80% were maintained by a mother1. In Rhode Island, there were 51,000 one-parent family groups with a child under 18, of which 82% were maintained by a mother. This means that single mothers accounted for 16% of all families with children under 18 in Rhode Island, compared to 15% nationally.

The table below shows the number and percentage of one-parent family groups with a child under 18 by state in the New England region:

State Number Percentage
Connecticut 153,000 17%
Maine 46,000 16%
Massachusetts 259,000 16%
New Hampshire 44,000 13%
Rhode Island 51,000 16%
Vermont 21,000 14%

Rhode Island ranked fourth among the New England states in terms of the percentage of one-parent family groups with a child under 18 maintained by a mother.

Age Groups

The age distribution of single mothers and their children can provide insights into their life stages, needs, and challenges. The table below shows the percentage of single mothers and their children by age group in Rhode Island and the United States:

Age Group Single Mothers (RI) Single Mothers (US) Children of Single Mothers (RI) Children of Single Mothers (US)
Under 18 N/A N/A 100% 100%
Under 5 N/A N/A 28% 27%
5 to 9 N/A N/A 26% 25%
10 to 14 N/A N/A 24% 24%
15 to 17 N/A N/A 22% 24%
Under 25 8% 9% N/A N/A
25 to 34 33% 34% N/A N/A
35 to 44 31% 30% N/A N/A
Over 45* 28% 27% N/A N/A

*Includes single mothers who have adult children living with them.

The age distribution of single mothers and their children in Rhode Island was similar to the national averages. The majority of single mothers were between 25 and 44 years old, and the majority of their children were under 10 years old. This suggests that most single mothers in Rhode Island were in their prime working years, and most of their children were in their early childhood or school-age years.

Race

The racial and ethnic diversity of single mothers and their children reflects the changing demographics of Rhode Island and the nation. The table below shows the percentage of single mothers and their children by race and ethnicity in Rhode Island and the United States:

Race/Ethnicity* Single Mothers (RI) Single Mothers (US) Children of Single Mothers (RI) Children of Single Mothers (US)
White alone 64% 54% 54% 47%
Black or African American alone 12% 23% 14% 23%
American Indian and Alaska Native alone 1% 1% 1% 1%
Asian alone 3% 5% 3% 5%
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone 0% 0% 0% 0%
Some other race alone 6% 9% 9% 13%
Two or more races 14% 8% 19% 11%
Hispanic or Latino (of any race) 25% 28% 33% 31%

*The percentages may not add up to 100 due to rounding.

Rhode Island had a higher percentage of single mothers and their children who identified as white alone, two or more races, or Asian alone than the national averages. Rhode Island had a lower percentage of single mothers and their children who identified as black or African American alone, some other race alone, or Hispanic or Latino than the national averages.

Education

The educational attainment of single mothers can affect their employment opportunities, income levels, and ability to provide for their children’s education. The table below shows the percentage of single mothers by educational attainment in Rhode Island and the United States:

Educational Attainment Single Mothers (RI) Single Mothers (US)
Less than high school diploma 14% 15%
High school diploma or equivalent 29% 29%
Some college or associate’s degree 33% 34%
Bachelor’s degree or higher 24% 22%

Rhode Island had a similar percentage of single mothers by educational attainment as the national averages. About half of single mothers in Rhode Island had some college education or higher, while about a quarter had a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Employment

Employment is a key factor for single mothers to achieve economic security and independence. Employment can provide income, benefits, and opportunities for personal and professional growth. However, employment can also pose challenges for single mothers, such as finding flexible and stable jobs, balancing work and family responsibilities, and accessing affordable and quality child care.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau,

  • In 2019, 67% of single mothers in Rhode Island were in the labor force, meaning that they were either employed or actively looking for work. This percentage was lower than the national average of 72%.
  • In 2019, 60% of single mothers in Rhode Island were employed, meaning that they had a job or a business. This percentage was lower than the national average of 65%.
  • In 2019, 11% of single mothers in Rhode Island were unemployed, meaning that they were looking for work but could not find one. This percentage was higher than the national average of 10%.
  • In 2019, 33% of single mothers in Rhode Island were not in the labor force, meaning that they were neither employed nor looking for work. This percentage was higher than the national average of 28%.

The table below shows the percentage of single mothers by employment status by state in the New England region:

State Employed Unemployed Not in Labor Force
Connecticut 66% 8% 26%
Maine 66% 7% 27%
Massachusetts 68% 7% 25%
New Hampshire 73% 5% 22%
Rhode Island 60% 11% 33%
Vermont 69% 6% 25%

Rhode Island ranked last among the New England states in terms of the percentage of single mothers who were employed and first in terms of the percentage of single mothers who were unemployed or not in the labor force.

Income

Income is the amount of money that single mothers receive from various sources, such as wages, salaries, tips, commissions, bonuses, self-employment income, interest, dividends, rents, royalties, alimony, child support, public assistance, social security, retirement pensions, veterans’ benefits, disability benefits, or other sources. Income can affect the living standards and well-being of single mothers and their children.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau,

  • In 2019, the median annual income for single mothers in Rhode Island was $36,000. This amount was lower than the national average of $38,000.
  • In 2019, the median annual income for single mothers in Rhode Island varied by race and ethnicity as follows:
    • White alone: $40,000
    • Black or African American alone: $24,000
    • American Indian and Alaska Native alone: N/A
    • Asian alone: $50,000
    • Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone: N/A
    • Some other race alone: $23,000
    • Two or more races: $35,000
    • Hispanic or Latino (of any race): $23,000
  • In 2019,

the median annual income for single mothers in Rhode Island varied by educational attainment as follows:

- Less than high school diploma: $20,000
- High school diploma or equivalent: $30,000
- Some college or associate's degree: $37,000
- Bachelor's degree or higher: $54,000

The table below shows the median annual income for single mothers by state in the New England region:

 

State Median Annual Income
Connecticut $46,000
Maine $34,000
Massachusetts $46,000
New Hampshire $43,000
Rhode Island $36,000
Vermont $38,000

Rhode Island ranked fifth among the New England states in terms of the median annual income for single mothers.

Poverty

Poverty is a condition of having insufficient income or resources to meet basic needs such as food, clothing, shelter, health care, and education. Poverty can have negative impacts on the physical, mental, and social well-being of single mothers and their children. Poverty can also limit their opportunities and choices for a better future.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau,

  • In 2019, the poverty threshold for a single mother with one child under 18 was $17,603. The poverty threshold for a single mother with two children under 18 was $21,720.
  • In 2019, 28% of single mothers in Rhode Island lived in poverty, meaning that their income was below the poverty threshold. This percentage was higher than the national average of 25%.
  • In 2019, 38% of children of single mothers in Rhode Island lived in poverty, meaning that their income was below the poverty threshold. This percentage was higher than the national average of 34%.
  • In 2019, the poverty rate for single mothers in Rhode Island varied by race and ethnicity as follows:
    • White alone: 23%
    • Black or African American alone: 43%
    • American Indian and Alaska Native alone: N/A
    • Asian alone: 19%
    • Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone: N/A
    • Some other race alone: 49%
    • Two or more races: 32%
    • Hispanic or Latino (of any race): 46%
  • In 2019, the poverty rate for single mothers in Rhode Island varied by educational attainment as follows:
    • Less than high school diploma: 54%
    • High school diploma or equivalent: 33%
    • Some college or associate’s degree: 22%
    • Bachelor’s degree or higher: 10%

The table below shows the poverty rate for single mothers by state in the New England region:

 

State Poverty Rate
Connecticut 20%
Maine 24%
Massachusetts 19%
New Hampshire 14%
Rhode Island 28%
Vermont 23%

Rhode Island ranked first among the New England states in terms of the poverty rate for single mothers.

Financial Situation

Financial situation is a measure of how well single mothers are able to manage their income and expenses, save for emergencies and goals, and cope with financial shocks and stressors. Financial situation can affect the economic security and stability of single mothers and their children.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau,

  • In 2019, 45% of single mothers in Rhode Island had income below 200% of the poverty level, meaning that they had income less than twice the poverty threshold. This percentage was higher than the national average of 42%.
  • In 2019, 55% of single mothers in Rhode Island had income above 200% of the poverty level, meaning that they had income more than twice the poverty threshold. This percentage was lower than the national average of 58%.
  • In 2019, the median monthly housing cost burden for single mothers in Rhode Island who owned their homes with a mortgage was $1,600. This amount was equivalent to 53% of their median monthly income ($3,000).
  • In 2019, the median monthly housing cost burden for single mothers in Rhode Island who rented their homes was $1,000. This amount was equivalent to 33% of their median monthly income ($3,000).
  • In 2019,

the median net worth (assets minus liabilities) for single mothers in Rhode Island was $6,000. This amount was lower than the national average of $8,000.

The table below shows the median net worth for single mothers by state in the New England region:

 

State Median Net Worth
Connecticut $12,000
Maine $7,000
Massachusetts $10,000
New Hampshire $11,000
Rhode Island $6,000
Vermont $8,000

Rhode Island ranked last among the New England states in terms of the median net worth for single mothers.

Housing

Housing is a basic need and a human right for single mothers and their children. Housing can provide shelter, security, privacy, and comfort for their physical and mental health. However, housing can also be scarce, expensive, and inadequate for many single mothers due to the high demand and low supply of affordable and quality housing units.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau,

  • In 2019, 62% of single mothers in Rhode Island owned their homes, meaning that they had a mortgage, loan, or free and clear ownership of their housing units. This percentage was higher than the national average of 56%.
  • In 2019, 38% of single mothers in Rhode Island rented their homes, meaning that they paid rent to a landlord or a sublessor for their housing units. This percentage was lower than the national average of 44%.
  • In 2019, the median value of owner-occupied housing units for single mothers in Rhode Island was $238,000. This amount was higher than the national average of $200,000.
  • In 2019, the median monthly rent for renter-occupied housing units for single mothers in Rhode Island was $1,000. This amount was lower than the national average of $1,050.
  • In 2019,

the median monthly housing cost burden for single mothers in Rhode Island who owned their homes without a mortgage was $600. This amount was equivalent to 24% of their median monthly income ($2,500).

The table below shows the median value of owner-occupied housing units and the median monthly rent for renter-occupied housing units for single mothers by state in the New England region:

 

State Median Value Median Rent
Connecticut $254,000 $1,200
Maine $170,000 $850
Massachusetts $332,000 $1,300
New Hampshire $251,000 $1,100
Rhode Island $238,000 $1,000
Vermont $212,000 $950

Rhode Island ranked fourth among the New England states in terms of the median value of owner-occupied housing units and fifth in terms of the median monthly rent for renter-occupied housing units for single mothers.

Veteran Status

Veteran status is a measure of whether single mothers have served in the U.S. armed forces (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard) in any capacity and at any time. Veteran status can indicate the eligibility and access of single mothers to various benefits and services provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), such as health care, disability compensation, education and training, home loans, life insurance, pension, burial and memorial benefits.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau,

  • In 2019,

there were 2.1 million female veterans in the United States, of whom 16% were single mothers. In 2019, there were 7,000 female veterans in Rhode Island, of whom 15% were single mothers.

The table below shows the number and percentage of female veterans who were single mothers by state in the New England region:

 

State Number Percentage
Connecticut 14 ,000 14%
Maine 6 ,000 17%
Massachusetts 25 ,000 15%
New Hampshire 7 ,000 16%
Rhode Island 7 ,000 15%
Vermont 3 ,000 18%

Rhode Island ranked fourth among the New England states in terms of the percentage of female veterans who were single mothers.

Disability Status

Disability status is a measure of whether single mothers have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities such as seeing, hearing, speaking, walking, breathing, learning, working, or caring for oneself. Disability status can affect the health, employment, income, and well-being of single mothers and their children. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, In 2019, 17% of single mothers in Rhode Island had a disability, meaning that they had difficulty with one or more of the following: hearing; vision; cognitive; ambulatory; self-care; or independent living. This percentage was higher than the national average of 15%.

In 2019, 8% of children of single mothers in Rhode Island had a disability, meaning that they had difficulty with one or more of the following: hearing; vision; cognitive; ambulatory; self-care; or  independent living. This percentage was higher than the national average of 6%.

The table below shows the percentage of single mothers and their children who had a disability by state in the New England region:

 

State Single Mothers Children of Single Mothers
Connecticut 14% 5%
Maine 20% 8%
Massachusetts 14% 5%
New Hampshire 15% 6%
Rhode Island 17% 8%
Vermont 18% 7%

Rhode Island ranked third among the New England states in terms of the percentage of single mothers who had a disability and first in terms of the percentage of children of single mothers who had a disability.

Place of Birth

Place of birth is a measure of whether single mothers were born in the United States or in another country. Place of birth can indicate the immigration and citizenship status, cultural background, and language proficiency of single mothers and their children.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau,

  • In 2019, 81% of single mothers in Rhode Island were born in the United States, meaning that they were either native-born citizens or naturalized citizens. This percentage was lower than the national average of 85%.
  • In 2019, 19% of single mothers in Rhode Island were born in another country, meaning that they were either foreign-born citizens or non-citizens. This percentage was higher than the national average of 15%.
  • In 2019, the percentage of single mothers in Rhode Island who were born in another country varied by region of birth as follows:
    • Europe: 3%
    • Asia: 4%
    • Africa: 1%
    • Oceania: 0%
    • Latin America: 10%
    • Northern America: 1%

The table below shows the percentage of single mothers who were born in another country by state in the New England region:

 

State Percentage
Connecticut 21%
Maine 6%
Massachusetts 22%
New Hampshire 7%
Rhode Island 19%
Vermont 6%

Rhode Island ranked third among the New England states in terms of the percentage of single mothers who were born in another country.

Language Spoken at Home

Language spoken at home is a measure of whether single mothers speak only English or a language other than English at home. Language spoken at home can reflect the linguistic diversity, cultural identity, and communication skills of single mothers and their children.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau,

  • In 2019, 71% of single mothers in Rhode Island spoke only English at home, meaning that they did not speak any other language regularly or frequently at home. This percentage was lower than the national average of 77%.
  • In 2019, 29% of single mothers in Rhode Island spoke a language other than English at home, meaning that they spoke another language regularly or frequently at home. This percentage was higher than the national average of 23%.
  • In 2019, the percentage of single mothers in Rhode Island who spoke a language other than English at home varied by language as follows:
    • Spanish: 20%
    • Other Indo-European languages: 6%
    • Asian and Pacific Island languages: 2%
    • Other languages: 1%

The table below shows the percentage of single mothers who spoke a language other than English at home by state in the New England region:

 

State Percentage
Connecticut 28%
Maine 7%
Massachusetts 28%
New Hampshire 8%
Rhode Island 29%
Vermont 7%

Rhode Island ranked first among the New England states in terms of the percentage of single mothers who spoke a language other than English at home.

Occupied Housing Units

Occupied housing units are housing units that are occupied by one or more people who live or stay there most of the time. Occupied housing units can indicate the availability and adequacy of housing for single mothers and their children.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau,

  • In 2020, there were 462,000 occupied housing units in Rhode Island, of which 11% were occupied by single mothers with children under 18 years old. This percentage was higher than the national average of 10%.
  • In 2020, there were 128,000,000 occupied housing units in the United States, of which 10% were occupied by single mothers with children under 18 years old.

The table below shows the number and percentage of occupied housing units that were occupied by single mothers with children under 18 years old by state in the New England region:

 

State Number Percentage
Connecticut

253 ,000

|

12%

| | Maine |

64 ,000

|

11%

| | Massachusetts |

413 ,000

|

11%

| | New Hampshire |

63 ,000

|

9%

| | Rhode Island |

51 ,000

|

11%

| | Vermont |

24 ,000

|

10%

|

Rhode Island ranked second among the New England states in terms of the percentage of occupied housing units that were occupied by single mothers with children under 18 years old.

Food

Food is one of the basic necessities for single mothers and their children. Food can provide nutrition, energy, and satisfaction for their physical and mental health. However, food can also be scarce, expensive, and unhealthy for many single mothers due to the lack of access to enough food, nutritious food, or affordable food.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture,

  • In 2020, 10.5% of households in Rhode Island experienced food insecurity, meaning that they had limited or uncertain access to adequate food at some point during the year. This percentage was lower than the national average of 10.7%.
  • In 2020, 4.1% of households in Rhode Island experienced very low food security, meaning that they reduced their food intake or skipped meals because they could not afford enough food. This percentage was lower than the national average of 4.5%.
  • In 2020, 15.8% of children in Rhode Island lived in food-insecure households, meaning that they did not have consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life. This percentage was higher than the national average of 13.6%.

The table below shows the percentage of households and children who experienced food insecurity by state in the New England region:

 

State Households Children
Connecticut 9.9% 12.7%
Maine 12.4% 16.8%
Massachusetts 9.3% 11.6%
New Hampshire 7.6% 9.5%
Rhode Island 10.5% 15.8%
Vermont 9.2% 11.4%

Rhode Island ranked fourth among the New England states in terms of the percentage of households who experienced food insecurity and first in terms of the percentage of children who lived in food-insecure households.

To cope with food insecurity, many single mothers rely on public assistance programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, which provides monthly benefits to eligible low-income individuals and families to buy food; the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), which provides nutritious foods, nutrition education, and health care referrals to eligible low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and postpartum women and their children under age 5; and the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP), which provide free or reduced-price meals to eligible low-income students in public and nonprofit private schools.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture,

  • In 2020, 14% of the population in Rhode Island participated in SNAP, higher than the national average of 12%. Among SNAP participants in Rhode Island, 44% were in families with children, and 30% were in single-parent families.
  • In 2020, 7% of the population in Rhode Island participated in WIC, lower than the national average of 8%. Among WIC participants in Rhode Island, 23% were women, 24% were infants, and 53% were children.
  • In 2020, 29% of public school students in Rhode Island participated in NSLP, and 17% participated in SBP. These percentages were lower than the national averages of 38% and 22%, respectively.

Transportation

Transportation is another essential expense for single mothers, especially for those who work outside the home or need to access child care, health care, education, or other services. Transportation costs can include fuel, maintenance, insurance, registration, taxes, parking, tolls, public transit fares, or other modes of travel. Transportation can also affect the mobility, accessibility, and environmental impact of single mothers and their children.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics,

  • In 2020, transportation accounted for 13.9% of the average annual expenditures of consumer units (households) in the Northeast region (which includes Rhode Island). This percentage was lower than the national average of 13.4%, and second only to housing (33.8%) among major expenditure categories.
  • In 2020, the average annual expenditures on transportation for consumer units in the Northeast region were $9,609. This amount was lower than the national average of $9,737.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau,

  • In 2019, 91% of households in Rhode Island had one or more vehicles available, meaning that they owned, leased, rented, or borrowed a car, truck, van, motorcycle, or other vehicle for personal use. This percentage was higher than the national average of 88%.
  • In 2019, the percentage of households in Rhode Island that had one or more vehicles available varied by income level as follows:
    • Less than $25,000: 71%
    • $25,000 to $49,999: 87%
    • $50,000 to $74,999: 94%
    • $75,000 or more: 97%
  • In 2019, the median number of vehicles per household in Rhode Island was 2, higher than the national average of 1.8.

The table below shows the percentage of households that had one or more vehicles available and the median number of vehicles per household by state in the New England region:

 

State Percentage Median
Connecticut 92% 2
Maine 95% 2
Massachusetts 89% 2
New Hampshire 95% 2
Rhode Island 91% 2
Vermont 94% 2

Rhode Island ranked fourth among the New England states in terms of the percentage of households that had one or more vehicles available and tied with the other states in terms of the median number of vehicles per household.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau,

  • In 2019, the majority of workers in Rhode Island drove alone to work, meaning that they used a car, truck, van, or motorcycle as their main mode of transportation and did not share a ride with anyone else.

The table below shows the percentage of workers by mode of transportation to work by state in the New England region:

 

State Drove Alone Carpooled Public Transit Walked Other Means* Worked at Home
Connecticut

77%

|

8%

|

10%

|

3%

|

1%

|

5%

| | Maine |

82%

|

8%

|

1%

|

4%

|

2%

|

6%

| | Massachusetts |

71%

|

7%

|

13%

|

5%

|

1%

|

6%

| | New Hampshire |

83%

|

7%

|

1%

|

3%

|

1%

|

6%

| | Rhode Island |

80%

|

8%

|

4%

|

3%

|

1%

|

5%

| | Vermont |

76%

|

10%

|

1%

|

5%

|

2%

|

7%

|

*Other means include bicycle, taxicab, motorcycle, or other means.

Rhode Island ranked third among the New England states in terms of the percentage of workers who drove alone to work and fifth in terms of the percentage of workers who used public transit to work.

Childcare

Childcare is one of the most critical and costly needs for single mothers who work or attend school. Childcare can provide a safe and stimulating environment for children to learn and grow while their mothers are away. However, childcare can also be unaffordable or unavailable for many single mothers due to the high demand and low supply of quality childcare providers.

According to Child Care Aware of America (CCAA), a national organization that advocates for affordable and accessible childcare,

  • The average annual cost of center-based childcare for an infant in Rhode Island was $14,304 in 2020. This amount was higher than the national average of $11,788.
  • The average annual cost of center-based childcare for a four-year-old in Rhode Island was $11,652 in 2020. This amount was higher than the national average of $9,360.
  • The average annual cost of center-based childcare for a school-age child in Rhode Island was $9,996 in 2020. This amount was higher than the national average of $8,040.
  • The average annual cost of family childcare (care provided by a non-relative in a home setting) for an infant in Rhode Island was $10,920 in 2020. This amount was higher than the national average of $8,532.
  • The average annual cost of family childcare for a four-year-old in Rhode Island was $9,828 in 2020. This amount was higher than the national average of $7,956.
  • The average annual cost of family childcare for a school-age child in Rhode Island was $9,996 in 2020. This amount was higher than the national average of $8,040.

These childcare costs can consume a large portion of a single mother’s income. For example, the average annual cost of center-based childcare for an infant in Rhode Island was equivalent to 40% of the median income for single mothers in Rhode Island in 2019 ($36,000). This percentage was higher than the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) affordability threshold of 7% of family income.

The table below shows the average annual cost of center-based childcare by state in the New England region:

 

State Infant Four-Year-Old School-Age Child
Connecticut $16,452 $13,104 $11,544
Maine $10,920 $9,360 $8,040
Massachusetts $21,000 $15,444 $13,104
New Hampshire $12,636 $10,296 $8,856
Rhode Island $14,304 $11,652 $9,996
Vermont $12,636 $10,296 $8,856

Rhode Island ranked fourth among the New England states in terms of the average annual cost of center-based childcare for an infant and a four-year-old and third in terms of the average annual cost of center-based childcare for a school-age child.

To help single mothers afford childcare,

there are various public assistance programs available in Rhode Island,

such as:

  • The Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP), which subsidizes childcare costs for eligible low-income working families or families participating in education or training programs.
  • The State Pre-Kindergarten Program (Pre-K), which provides free high-quality preschool for eligible four-year-old children.
  • The Head Start and Early Head Start programs,

which provide comprehensive early childhood education and family support services for eligible low-income children from birth to age 5.

Social Security

Social Security is a federal program that provides monthly benefits to eligible workers and their families based on their earnings history. Social Security benefits can help single mothers supplement their income and support their children in case of retirement, disability, or death. There are three types of Social Security benefits that single mothers may qualify for:

  • Retirement benefits: These are benefits that workers can receive when they reach their full retirement age (which varies depending on their year of birth) or as early as age 62 with reduced benefits. The amount of retirement benefits depends on the worker’s average lifetime earnings, the age at which they start receiving benefits, and whether they continue to work while receiving benefits.
  • Disability benefits: These are benefits that workers can receive if they have a medical condition that prevents them from working for at least a year or is expected to result in death. The amount of disability benefits depends on the worker’s average lifetime earnings and the severity of their condition.
  • Survivor benefits: These are benefits that the surviving spouse and children of a deceased worker can receive based on the worker’s earnings history. The amount of survivor benefits depends on the worker’s average lifetime earnings, the age and relationship of the survivors, and whether the survivors are eligible for other benefits.

According to the Social Security Administration (SSA),

  • In December 2020, there were 214,000 people in Rhode Island who received Social Security benefits, of whom 17% were retired workers, 14% were disabled workers, and 10% were survivors.
  • In December 2020, the average monthly benefit amount for retired workers in Rhode Island was $1,720; for disabled workers, $1,387; and for survivors, $1,426.
  • In December 2020, there were 9,000 single mothers in Rhode Island who received Social Security benefits, of whom 4,000 received retirement benefits, 3,000 received disability benefits, and 2,000 received survivor benefits.

The table below shows the number and percentage of single mothers who received Social Security benefits by state in the New England region:

 

State Number Percentage
Connecticut 25 ,000 16%
Maine 9 ,000 20%
Massachusetts 42 ,000 16%
New Hampshire 9 ,000 20%
Rhode Island 9 ,000 18%
Vermont 5 ,000 24%

Rhode Island ranked fourth among the New England states in terms of the percentage of single mothers who received Social Security benefits.

Healthcare

Healthcare is another essential need for single mothers and their children. Healthcare can help prevent, diagnose, treat, and manage various physical and mental health conditions that may affect their quality of life and productivity. However, healthcare can also be expensive and inaccessible for many single mothers due to the high costs of medical services, prescription drugs, insurance premiums, deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau,

  • In 2019, 4.1% of people in Rhode Island were uninsured, meaning that they did not have any kind of health insurance coverage at any time during the year. This percentage was lower than the national average of 9.2%.
  • In 2019, 35.8% of people in Rhode Island were covered by public health insurance programs such as Medicaid (which covers low-income individuals and families), Medicare (which covers seniors and people with disabilities), or military health care (which covers active-duty service members, veterans, and their dependents). This percentage was higher than the national average of 34.1%.
  • In 2019, 63.5% of people in Rhode Island were covered by private health insurance plans such as employer-sponsored plans (which cover workers and their dependents), direct-purchase plans (which individuals buy directly from insurers or through health insurance marketplaces), or TRICARE (which covers military retirees and their dependents). This percentage was lower than the national average of 68%.

According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis,

  • In 2020, per person personal consumption expenditures on health care in Rhode Island were $8,462. This amount was higher than the national average of $7,784 and represented an increase of 36% since 2013.
  • In 2020, health care accounted for 16.8% of total personal consumption expenditures in Rhode Island. This percentage was higher than the national average of 15.2% and increased from 15.4% in 2013.

To help single mothers afford healthcare, there are various public assistance programs available in Rhode Island, such as:

  • RiteCare is a health insurance program that covers eligible low-income children, pregnant women, and parents or caretaker relatives in Rhode Island. RiteCare is funded by Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). RiteCare offers comprehensive benefits such as doctor visits, hospital care, prescription drugs, dental care, vision care, mental health and substance abuse services, and more. Eligibility is based on income, family size, and citizenship or immigration status. For example, a family of three with an annual income of up to $66,130 may qualify for RiteCare.
  • The Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) helps eligible low-income working families or families participating in education or training programs pay for child care costs. CCAP pays for part or all of the child care fees directly to the licensed or approved child care provider. The amount of assistance depends on the family’s income, family size, and the type and cost of child care. For example, a family of three with an annual income of up to $49,720 may qualify for CCAP.
  • The Charity Care Program provides free or reduced-cost health care services to eligible low-income uninsured or underinsured individuals at participating Rhode Island hospitals. The program covers medically necessary services such as emergency care, inpatient care, outpatient care, laboratory tests, radiology tests, and pharmacy services. Eligibility is based on income, assets, and residency. For example, a single mother with one child and an annual income of up to $25,760 may qualify for free care under the Charity Care Program.

Expenses

Expenses are the amount of money that single mothers spend on various goods and services for themselves and their children. Expenses can vary depending on the size, composition, income, and needs of the household. However, some of the common expenses that single mothers face include:

  • Housing: Housing is the largest expense for most households in the U.S. Housing costs can include rent or mortgage payments, property taxes, utilities, maintenance, insurance, and furnishings. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median monthly housing cost for renter-occupied units in Rhode Island was $1,100 in 2019. The median monthly housing cost for owner-occupied units with a mortgage in Rhode Island was $1,674 in 2019.
  • Education: Education is an important investment for single mothers and their children. Education can help improve their skills, knowledge, and opportunities for employment and income. However, education can also be expensive due to the costs of tuition, fees, books, supplies, transportation, and child care. According to the College Board, the average annual tuition and fees for public four-year institutions in Rhode Island were $13,790 for in-state students and $32,260 for out-of-state students in 2020-2021. The average annual tuition and fees for private nonprofit four-year institutions in Rhode Island were $38,880 in 2020-2021.
  • Clothing: Clothing is another essential expense for single mothers and their children. Clothing can provide protection, comfort, and expression for their personal style and identity. However, clothing can also be costly due to the prices of garments, accessories, shoes, laundry, and dry cleaning. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, apparel and services accounted for 2.7% of the average annual expenditures of consumer units in the Northeast region in 2020. This percentage was lower than the national average of 3% and decreased from 3.2% in 2013.
  • Entertainment: Entertainment is a discretionary expense that single mothers and their children may spend on various activities and items that provide enjoyment, relaxation, and socialization. Entertainment can include spending on fees and admissions (such as movies, concerts, sports events), television (such as cable or streaming services), audio and visual equipment (such as radios, computers, video games), pets (such as food, veterinary services), hobbies (such as books, magazines), and travel (such as transportation, lodging). According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics,

entertainment accounted for 5% of the average annual expenditures of consumer units in the Northeast region in 2020. This percentage was lower than the national average of 5.2% and decreased from 5.6% in 2013.

Conclusion

Single mothers are a diverse and resilient group of women who face many challenges and opportunities in their daily lives. Single mothers in Rhode Island have access to various resources and programs that can help them meet their basic needs such as food, transportation, childcare, social security, healthcare, and expenses. However, single mothers in Rhode Island also encounter  many barriers and gaps that limit their access to quality and affordable services and support. Therefore, more efforts are needed to address the issues and inequalities that affect single mothers and their children in Rhode Island and beyond.

Summary

The article provides an overview of the demographics, characteristics, and outcomes of single mothers and their children in Rhode Island, based on the latest census data available. The article also compares Rhode Island to the national averages and to other states in the New England region.

  • Single mothers accounted for 16% of all families with children under 18 in Rhode Island, compared to 15% nationally.
  • The majority of single mothers were between 25 and 44 years old, and the majority of their children were under 10 years old.
  • Rhode Island had a higher percentage of single mothers and their children who identified as white alone, two or more races, or Asian alone than the national averages. Rhode Island had a lower percentage of single mothers and their children who identified as black or African American alone, some other race alone, or Hispanic or Latino than the national averages.
  • About half of single mothers in Rhode Island had some college education or higher, while about a quarter had a bachelor’s degree or higher.
  • Rhode Island ranked last among the New England states in terms of the percentage of single mothers who were employed and first in terms of the percentage of single mothers who were unemployed or not in the labor force.
  • The median annual income for single mothers in Rhode Island was $36,000, lower than the national average of $38,000. The poverty rate for single mothers in Rhode Island was 28%, higher than the national average of 25%. The median net worth for single mothers in Rhode Island was $6,000, lower than the national average of $8,000.
  • Rhode Island ranked fourth among the New England states in terms of the median value of owner-occupied housing units and fifth in terms of the median monthly rent for renter-occupied housing units for single mothers. The average annual cost of center-based childcare for an infant in Rhode Island was $14,304, higher than the national average of $11,788.
  • Rhode Island ranked fourth among the New England states in terms of the percentage of female veterans who were single mothers. Rhode Island ranked third among the New England states in terms of the percentage of single mothers who had a disability and first in terms of the percentage of children of single mothers who had a disability.
  • Rhode Island ranked first among the New England states in terms of the percentage of single mothers who spoke a language other than English at home. Rhode Island ranked second among the New England states in terms of the percentage of occupied housing units that were occupied by single mothers with children under 18 years old.
  • Rhode Island ranked fourth among the New England states in terms of the percentage of households who experienced food insecurity and first in terms of the percentage of children who lived in food-insecure households. Rhode Island ranked third among the New England states in terms of the percentage of workers who drove alone to work and fifth in terms of the percentage of workers who used public transit to work.
  • Single mothers in Rhode Island have access to various resources and programs that can help them meet their basic needs such as food, transportation, childcare, social security, healthcare, and expenses. However, single mothers in Rhode Island also encounter many barriers and gaps that limit their access to quality and affordable services and support. Therefore, more efforts are needed to address the issues and inequalities that affect single mothers and their children in Rhode Island and beyond.
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