Resources for Single and Co-Parents in the Bay Area
Parenting can be as challenging as it is rewarding, and for single parents that’s often doubly so.
Raising and supporting precious young life while working and managing time, finances, health, relationships – and all of life’s surprises – can be taxing and overwhelming. Maybe you are sharing your child with a co-parent or an ex. Or maybe you are doing it on your own, by choice or by circumstance.
You are not alone! There is a lot of support out there waiting for you.
The Bay Area is filled with thousands of single parents raising children by themselves or in some kind of co-parenting situation. Many are tapping into free resources and online designed to help navigate life’s complications and to connect single-parent and co-parent families seeking community, fun and friendship
The free opportunities range from online forums to support groups led by professionals to casual hangouts at parks to adults-only softball teams and music festival outings.
Though every family’s journey is unique, single parenthood is a well-beaten path. Consider taking advantage of the support available.
Digital Parenting Tools
Check your app store to find numerous free and low-cost apps to make co-parenting easier. Many offer custody and events calendars and scheduling tools, expense tracking and reimbursement requests, and real-time messaging. You can also use them to share useful information, such as clothing sizes and medical notes. Users say these apps can improve and streamline communication. Some parents in rocky legal situations report using the information in their chosen app to hold the other parent accountable in family court.
Kids’ Turn gives parents and caregivers the tools to prioritize a child’s well-being while navigating separation or divorce. Though administered through the San Francisco-based child advocacy organization Safe & Sound, the six-week workshops for children and adults are also held in the East Bay and the Peninsula. Registration starts June 10. It is a recognized family court program and receives a lot of referrals from judges and mediators. Find more information and free online lessons here.
This community of some 2,500 Bay Area single parents has been going strong for more than a decade. Members can connect at many popular Bay Area events and venues for outings and activities, with and without children. While somewhat South Bay-centered, this group travels all over the region for a range of activities. Dating is not discouraged, but the main focus is to meet and connect with other single parents for fun and friendship in a low-pressure environment. (One rule: You can’t join if your ex is already a member and vice versa.)
Support groups for single parents, adoptive parents, parents of children with special needs and parents of children with diabetes are among the resources offered at this long-established program serving San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma counties. Operated by the nonprofit Jewish Family & Children’s Services, Parents Place also offers counseling, classes and workshops on a wide range of topics, including single parenting and coparenting. There are drop-in play and activity groups for children under age 5. Prices vary. Its single parent support group in San Mateo offers onsite childcare during the meeting. It is free, but pre-registration is required.
Bay Area Parent Groups
Mothers’ groups and clubs are not just for traditional stay-at-home moms. There are clubs in every country offering playgroups and social events, with many offering extras like online forums, babysitting exchanges, guest speakers and charitable opportunities. These groups are easy to find in an online search or on Facebook. Get started looking with this handy list of parents’ clubs from Bay Area Parent.
Some popular and helpful ones for single parents include the following:
The International MOMS Club, an activities-focused support community that organizes park play dates, Mom’s nights out and family events with more than 2,000 chapters in the United States.
What started as a mailing list for student-parents by a UC Berkeley grad student in 1993, Berkeley Parents Network is now a comprehensive nonprofit online community forum with no editorial or advertising interference serving more than 24,000 subscribers. Browse through a trove of advice and articles, with a heavy section related to single- and co-parenting. Rooted in Berkeley but presenting for a regional-wide audience, this group offers recommendations and reviews on schools, camps and classes around the Bay Area. Find childcare or tutors. Sell and buy toys or furniture, and check out the free section in its virtual marketplace.
This support, education and advocacy group for LGBTQ families serves San Francisco and the East Bay, with services ranging from play groups to legal aid. Find workshops that cover both LGBTQ-specifc and general parentings topics. There are fun, child-parent bonding activities like cooking classes.
This all-volunteer organization for adoptive and pre-adoptive families offers information, education, support and fellowship. It has support groups for adoptive families and for adoptive families with teens meeting in San Francisco and Palo Alto.
Despite the name, MOPs serves moms of children of all ages, with meetings throughout the Bay Area, usually in partnership with local churches.
Malaika Fraley is a calendar editor at Bay Area Parent.