"It didn't always work": children's narratives of employment, unemployment and changing family practices
Department of Social and Policy Sciences University of Bath Bath, England
For children in the UK who are living in workless, lone-mother families the risk of experiencing poverty is high. The government's strategy to reduce child poverty has relied heavily on welfare-to-work programmes, and increasing compulsion for lone mothers can lead to them entering low-paid employment in unstable labour market conditions. Underpinning this policy objective is a central assumption that employment is the best route out of poverty for children and their families. However, the impact of mother's employment on children's everyday lives, especially in lone mother households is uncertain. To explore these issues this presentation draws on new empirical findings from three waves of a qualitative, longitudinal study of low-income working family life. The study involves interviews with children (and their mothers) which explore the impact of low-income maternal employment on family life and living standards over time. The paper draws on child-centred qualitative interviews to explore the narratives of those children whose mother's entry into the labour market was either unsuccessful or unstable. It examines how children experienced their mother's employment, changing family practices, and the impact of "failed" work transitions on their well-being and their perceptions of the value of work for them and their families.