Former President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law Republic Act 11861 or the “Expanded Solo Parents Welfare Act” last June 4, 2022, to reinforce the two decade-old Solo Parent’s Welfare Act of 2000 by expanding its scope of applicability and increasing the benefits granted to solo parents and their families.
The Act covers solo parents who exercise sole parental care and support of the child or children, whereby the occasional assistance and/or gifts from the co-parent that do not meet the legal requirement for support under the Family Code, will not remove the solo parent from the Act’s scope. The Act covers five (5) categories of solo parents: (a) A parent who provides sole parental care and support of the child or children; (b) A spouse, any family member, or a guardian of the child or children of an Overseas Filipino Worker [OFW], provided that the OFW belongs to the low/semi-skilled worker and has been away for an uninterrupted period of twelve (12) months; (c) An unmarried parent who keeps and rears the child or children; (d) A legal guardian, adoptive, or foster parent who solely provides parental care and support; and (e) Any relative within the fourth (4th) civil degree of consanguinity or affinity of the parent or legal guardian who assumes parental care and support of the child or children as a result of death, abandonment, disappearance, or absence of the parents for at least six (6) months.
Among the expansions that the Act made is the amendment of the dependent’s age threshold from eighteen (18) years old to twenty-two (22) years old. The definition of “spouse” has also been expanded to mean not only to a husband or wife by virtue of a valid marriage, but also to a partner in a common-law relationship as defined by Article 147 of the Family Code (i.e., those who have no legal impediment to marry and are living exclusively as husband and wife without benefit of a valid marriage).
Solo parents are granted more benefits under the expanded Act. They are entitled to P1,000 cash subsidy per month per solo parent earning a minimum wage and below, provided no other cash assistance or subsidy from a government program is availed of. They can also avail of a 10% discount and VAT exemption on baby’s supplements and other medical supplements purchased for children until the age of six (6), provided that the solo parent is earning less than P250,000 annually. Solo parents are also automatically covered under the National Health Insurance Program administered by PhilHealth.
In the working space, the required period of rendered service to avail of Parental Leave has been shortened from one (1) year to only six (6) months. Employers are encouraged, although not required, to enter into agreements with their solo parent employees for a telecommuting program as provided under Republic Act 11165. In education, every child of a solo parent is entitled to a scholarship provided by DepEd, CHED, and TESDA, and thereafter is given priority in education programs of the government.
The Act prohibits and penalizes persons or entities who refuse to provide the benefits granted by the Act, as well as persons who misrepresent their status or falsify documents or cause another to avail or be denied of the benefits granted by the Act.