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When schools are closed again, will all of the childcare be transferred to the parents again? How can this be achieved, especially with single parents?
Schools in Austria have been closed again since November 17th due to the Corona crisis and the constantly increasing number of infections. And that adds a lot of stress to parents, just like in the spring.
But the initially announced legal entitlement to special care time in the event of a lockdown, including 100% cost coverage by the federal government, gave at least some of the parents a perspective on how they can create child care.
However, the confusing information about the legal entitlement to special care time - in addition to the different statements about the school closings themselves - caused uncertainty and indignation among the families. The already large accompanying damage is exacerbated again and the state responsibility for education is passed on to the families.
“Parents feel mocked. You currently need all your strength to manage daily life. We call on the government to implement the special care hours as promised. She is responsible for the future generation of Austria.”Warns Evelyn Martin, retired teacher and chairwoman of the board of the Austrian Platform for Single Parents (ÖPA).
Disregarding the living conditions of single parents
Almost 30% of all single parents said in a survey in 2019 that their children do not have their own room and almost half of single parents are at risk of poverty or exclusion. In addition, in single-parent households, children have to take on a lot of everyday work very early on, often at the expense of their own schooling and training.
Tips from the ministries that learning and playing with children should take place in separate rooms, recommendations on ergonomically best-designed home office spaces or that older siblings should supervise younger people before special care is taken, unfortunately miss the realities of life for many single parents.
“It is irresponsible to remind families of their own responsibility in this situation, if they cannot cope with the situation due to a lack of framework conditions. The fact that the real situation of many families is not taken into account does not correspond to the public assurances of the government that all types of families should be treated equally,”says Evelyn Martin.
Single parents overworked and desperate
For single parents, the new lockdown means that their resources are overstrained. The measures highlighted positively in public do not have any effect on single parents. The consequences are increasingly mental illnesses such as depression or burnout in mothers and fathers. Illnesses that ultimately also reduce the future chances of children. There are no preventive measures to maintain health that could relieve the burden, such as the assumption of costs for mother-child cures or psychological treatment on a sick note. “Since the spring, the federal government has had time to think about better solutions for schools and infrastructure. Even so, no adequate preparations have been made. The weeks of assurances that there would be neither lockdown nor school closings were more than counterproductive. The current situation is having a particularly dramatic effect on single parents and their children,”concluded Martin.