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Being a single parent can be difficult no matter where you live: you must be both mom and dad, good cop and bad cop, and no one is there to back you up on the really awful, hard days.
Fortunately, for parents in Clovis, California, there is some community support to help relieve some of the stress and frustration that comes with the territory of single parenthood. Some of these resources cater to single mothers, but it never hurts to inquire if there are any dad’s groups or if they welcome men.
Playgroups: First, there are several playgroups that cater to the Central Valley in California. If you visit this site, you will see contact information for playgroups, offering weekly play dates, mom’s nights outs, fitness groups, and general support for single parents. Some of them are free – but most of them you can become a member for a low-cost, one time annual membership fee.
Education: In Fresno, there are several agencies that offer support and classes to single parents, such as Comprehensive Youth Services. Successful Single Parenting classes, or SSP, offers advice and coping mechanisms to parents going through a separation or divorce and need support and information regarding their role as a newly single parent. Parents learn how to communicate with each other, their children, and how to better share parental responsibilities.
Clothing and Furniture: There are several churches and religious centers in Fresno that offer furniture, clothing and even diapers and formula to single or struggling parents. After a divorce or separation, it can take some adjustment to get used to a single income, particularly if someone was heavily dependent on both incomes. These services can help bridge the gap during this adjustment period. Check out the Holy Cross Center for Women in Fresno, the Seventh Day Adventist Community Center and the Light Line United Mission if you need someone to help you make ends meet – even temporarily.
CoAbode: One of the more unique groups to help single mothers is CoAbode – which encourages house sharing, provides essential resources and allows two single mothers to combine their income to more easily raise their children. While their focus is to encourage home-sharing, it also fosters friendships, setting up monthly gatherings, support groups, and babysitting resources. It is nationwide, with their headquarters in Santa Monica, CA.
CalWorks: Calworks offers financial support to eligible families with children – including single parent households. This public, government-run program offers temporary cash support to parents to help pay for housing, food, and other expenses. You can apply online at Benefitscal.org or contact your county social services agency. CalFresh is a similar program, offering food stamps to families below a certain income level. Medi-Cal is California’s Medicaid program, providing healthcare to children in low income families.
Government Resources – The Fresno County Department of Children and Family Services always sounds worse than it is – most people do not want to get involved because they assume it is because they have been accused of child neglect or abuse. However, the department offers a lot of support to individual resources in the community, as well as rental assistance, financial support and community support to single parents. They publish a journal of resources for parents to consult as well. They administer the Family to Family neighborhood collaborative, which focuses on community, safety and education within smaller zones of the county. They typical hold monthly meetings at various churches.
Community Groups: Fresno is rife with supportive groups for parents – including afterschool programs for youth. Barrios Unidos is just one of these groups, which offers courses on domestic violence, parenting skills, and operates an after school program for adolescents in the Fresno county area.
Counseling – If you are a newly single parent, via divorce, death or separation, it is important to deal with the inevitable trauma of such a division. There are several community-based counseling groups in Fresno County, including the Family Communication Center, which provides counseling, support groups, and group therapy to both adults and children.
Child Care Services – The Children’s Services Network provides parents with support and education, while Finding Child Care (F.I.N.D) provides information and referrals to single parents looking for child care. Supportive Services provides financial support for child care expenses, as well as information to parents concerning child development services. More information can be obtained from the Department of Children and Family Services of Fresno County. The Child Care Resource Center (CCRC) offers subsidy programs to qualifying families who need help paying for childcare.
Family Leave – As a single parent, you are often the only one available to care for a seriously ill child or family memer. Under California’s Paid Family Leave, some employees – who are eligible – can take up to six weeks of paid leave to help care for their family, up to 55% of their weekly earnings.
California is a fairly progressive state, offering a lot of community, government, and religious services to aid families in need. Single-parent families are particularly vulnerable, as there is no safety net either financially or emotionally from another parent. Do not be afraid to ask for help from your community. Rebecca Medina is a Clovis Divorce Attorney supporting families in the Fresno area. If you are looking for an affordable family law attorney near you, contact Ms. Medina, who will handle your case with compassion and intellect.