Many support systems for single parents began as parent-to-parent systems of helping newly single parents adjust to their circumstances [source: Parents Without Partners]. Now, some support groups are starting to emphasize wellness for single parents and their children, organizing family recreational activities and providing a forum for people to exchange ideas about how to live healthy as a single-parent family.
Groups such as the Single Parents Association in Phoenix, Ariz., are run by single parents for single parents in the traditional support group style. Members pay a annual membership fee (ranging from $30 to $75), meet monthly and also get together for camping and other recreational activities that cater to both parents and the children [source: Single Parents Association].
Many churches and other faith-based ministries offer emotional support for single parents, too. For example, the Wake Forest, N.C.-based Church Initiative Inc. specializes in helping churches help single parents through divorce or the death of a spouse. It charges a fee of $340 to $540 to each church that wants to start a support group [source: Church Initiative Inc.].
Additionally, there are many groups on the Web that provide resources and support. SingleMom.com is an example of a free clearinghouse for information about parenting, finances, education -- basically everything from cooking to tax returns. It also provides a forum for single moms to interact and offer support to each other [source: SingleMom.com].
One of the easiest ways to find these groups is through simple Internet searches for "single parent support" and related topics. Also, some commercial news and information companies such as Gannett have developed or acquired parent networking Web sites such as MomsLikeMe.com that can connect parents with local people who might be in similar situations. These are typically free to join [source: MomsLikeMe.com].
Besides the Web, sources of information can include the United Way's 211 information phone service, church- or faith-based nonprofits such as Lutheran Social Services, or local government offices that deal with children and parents, including a county human services agency. These resources are usually free, but the programs they reference could cost money.
There may not be hard evidence that the support group you're interested is effective, but to get an idea, you can seek out feedback and comments from members about how useful the group has been to them. However, if you think you need a little more support than an informal group can offer, there are some more structured programs out there to get involved in. Read on to find out more about these.