Young single parents

Advice for young single parents

Becoming a parent is both exciting and a challenge at any age. You will have lots of things to consider, including your finances and your plans for the future.

This page addresses key things for you to consider as a young single parent and links to other places you can find help, support, and communities of other people in similar situations.

Benefits, Money, and Housing

First of all, let’s look at your finances.

Many young parents do not realise that they are entitled to a number of benefits which can help you with your finances and getting other support.

If you are working and eligible for Universal Credit, you can get help with your childcare costs. You can find out more information about Universal Credit and childcare costs on the Gov.uk website, or call the Gingerbread helpline.

If you are pregnant or your baby is less than 6 months old , and you receive certain benefits or tax credits, you may be able to claim a Sure Start Maternity Grant which is a one-off payment of £500.

If you’re at least 10 weeks pregnant or have a child under 4 then you may qualify for Healthy Start vouchers, which can be used to buy milk, formula milk, fruit and veg, and vitamins. You can find details on how to apply on the Healthy Start website.

If you are homeless or having problems finding a suitable home, Shelter have advice on housing options for young parents.

Child Maintenance

For many single parents, setting up a child maintenance arrangement with the child’s other parent can be an important source of financial support. Both parents are financially responsible for their child’s wellbeing, even if they don’t live with their child.

Child maintenance usually includes payment of regular amounts of money to the parent who cares for the child most of the time. Child maintenance can also include paying bills or buying items such as clothes and toys, or anything you like as long as both parents agree. Making this agreement can be a big task, so try talking with an adult you trust about how they can help you with speaking to the other parent.

One way to arrange child maintenance is for both parents to agree between themselves what money will be paid and in what form. The Child Maintenance Options service can provide a form for you to write down what you agree, although this is not legally binding. If you can’t make an agreement yourself with the other parent, you can contact the Child Maintenance Service, who can make the arrangement for you and will decide the amount to be paid.

You can read more about your options on our page on arranging child maintenance.

Education

Studying as a single parent is not easy, but many single mums and dads find that they are able to continue studying while looking after their child. You can read our Education pages for advice on going back to school or going to university, including information on finances, benefits, and childcare options. If you are thinking of what you might want to study, you can use the National Careers Service website to search for courses in your area.

You might find it helpful or inspiring to read stories from other single parents in education, or watch Vimi’s video on studying as a single parent.

Financial help for studying

If you’re age 16-19 and studying in England you may be able to apply for a 16-19 Bursary Fund to help pay for education-related costs like books or travel. If you live in the rest of the UK you may be able to claim Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) instead. See the Gov.uk website more information or call the Gingerbread helpline.

If you live in England and are under 20, you may qualify for the Care to Learn scheme, which helps with the cost of childcare while studying at school, college, or similar. This can help you continue studying or to start a new course. You can find out if you qualify on the Care to Learn webpage.

For more options read our finances for single parent students page, or contact our helpline.

Becoming a parent at a young age can be challenging, particularly if you're doing it alone. Naomi from Teen Mom UK discusses her experiences.

Looking after yourself

Becoming a parent is a big change in your life that can be incredibly rewarding but can also be really hard work, so it’s important to take the time to look after yourself as well as your child.

Try not to put pressure on yourself and remember that it’s ok to ask for help when you need it from friends, family, or carers. If you’re worried about asking for help, Childline has advice on how to start that conversation.

If you need advice or just someone to talk to, you can contact any of the organisations below:

  • ChildLine offer help to everyone under 19. You can talk to them about anything on the phone or talk online using 1-2-1 counsellor chat.
  • The Mix offers support and advice to young people under 25, including answering awkward or embarrassing questions you may not feel confident asking other people. You can use their Crisis Messenger service to have a text conversation if you are having painful emotions or you’re in a crisis.
  • Family Lives provide emotional support, information, advice and guidance on any aspect of parenting and family life.
  • Young Stonewall provides advice and support for young lesbian, gay, bi and trans people, as well as those who are questioning their gender or sexual identity.
Blurred background image - mostly grey with pinks, whites and blues

Talk to other young single parents

You might find it helpful to join a community where you can talk to other young single parents. It’s always good to hear from other people who have been through a similar situation and get their advice.

If you want to talk with other single parents of all ages, you can chat on our forum or see if there is a local Gingerbread group in your area.

Find a community

Little Lullaby

Little Lullaby is an online support community for young parents and parents-to-be.

Childline: Young Parents

Talk about how you're feeling or ask questions in the Young Parents section of the Childline message boards.

Local groups

You can check with your local Family Information Service to see whether they run young parents groups.

Parenting tips

The NHS provides a number of helpful tips for looking after your new baby.

NHS Tips for new parents

Young Parents Advice

If your child is in need, deemed at risk, in care, or adopted, Young Parents Advice provides legal and practical information to help you understand your rights and what options are available to you.

Young Parents Advice