In a non-binding resolution passed on 25 October 2011, MEPs have called on EU member states to do more to help single mothers. "The report is full of excellent initiatives and new objectives that the EU should set itself, because this will become a central issue and one of Europe's priorities, considering that the number of single mothers is growing," said rapporteur Barbara Matera (European People's Party, Italy) during the debate on 24 October.
The text notes that "the two-parent family model and the notion of motherhood only after marriage have become eroded" and that "single mothers are becoming increasingly significant as a group in all advanced and industrialised countries, whether as a result of divorce, separation or never having been married". It argues that polices need to be adapted to respond to this new reality. On a general level, MEPs urge member states to identify common policies based on the exchange of best practices. They also say that all steps taken for single mothers should be extended to single fathers.
MEPs call on member states to analyse and address the problem of underemployment of single mothers. They also suggest that member states provide tax deductions and other financial incentives to companies that employ single parents and/or create, operate and provide on-site childcare facilities and services to employees. MEPs are in favour of company childcare facilities with flexible opening hours. They stress the need for sufficient high-quality services for the care of children and other dependants at affordable prices and compatible with full-time employment. They argue that single mothers should have privileged access to them. They call for specific training programmes for single mothers to make it easier for them to get jobs and employment policies that encourage the recruitment of single mothers and prevent unjustified dismissals.
MEPs also stress the importance of education and information about the sexual and reproductive rights of women, in particular for younger women, to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies. The resolution also calls for parental training courses to prepare and teach young single parents on low incomes how to raise children more effectively. MEPs also argue that young pregnant women should be encouraged to continue their education to obtain qualifications and jobs to escape poverty. They also want single mothers to have easier access to training, vocational training and specific scholarships via funding from the European Social Fund and member states.
EU member states should help single mothers by setting up 'family centres' to provide them with temporary accommodation, advice and education, argue MEPs. Along similar lines, they call on member states to ensure that single mothers benefit from housing support and that they are given priority on waiting lists for renting houses. Another idea mooted by MEPs is for member states to develop online and interpersonal chat forums, blogs and telephone help lines aimed directly at single mothers. The idea here is to reduce their isolation and allow them to exchange advice, information and best practices based on their individual needs. MEPs would also like telephone help lines or free phone numbers introduced to make it easier to put them in contact with social services.