The experience of sole mothers balancing paid work with care for a child with a disability

Lindsay Cole, Angela Crettenden, Rachel Roberts, Annemarie Wright

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    3 Citations (Scopus)


    There are increasing numbers of families in Australia headed by sole parents, but little is known about the experiences of those who also care for a child with a disability. Additional caring responsibilities have previously been shown to impact on the work participation of parents. This study involved qualitative analyses of interview data conducted with sole mothers with school-aged children with disability (N = 11). Thematic analysis revealed four themes that enabled and supported participation in the workforce: social support; managing appointments; characteristics of the workplace; and the role of the school. Results suggest the importance of practical help from family and friends in facilitating participation in paid employment. Additionally, the importance of flexible appointment scheduling on the part of service providers was highlighted, as well as the importance of workplace flexibility and supportive workplace cultures. Such factors were important in supporting sole mothers to balance work with care, with important implications for personal and family wellbeing.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)317-339
    Number of pages23
    JournalAustralian Journal of Social Issues
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2016


    • carers
    • children with disabilities
    • employment
    • single parent families
    • worker participation


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