NORTH OLMSTED, Ohio — A recent study revealed that nearly 24 million children – about one in three children across America – live in single-parent families. This figure has been rising for about half a century.
Born out of a need to better support families during the pandemic, North Olmsted City Schools successfully established a Single Parent Support Group during the 2021-2022 school year.
“We were trying to figure out how to support families during the shutdown,” said Karen Gallagher, social worker at North Olmsted Town Schools. “As we looked at a lot of different demographics and things that might be difficult for our families, we noticed that we had a significant number of single parents.
“I’m also a single parent, so I knew what I was dealing with during the shutdown and as a working parent. I just thought this group would need some support.
The roots of the single parent support group began in the successful grandparents initiative raising grandchildren in the district.
After reaching out to single parent families, 22 people participated in last year’s virtual single parent support group meetings. In addition to a monthly newsletter, the meetings covered various topics of discussion.
“We created the group so that we could help these families feel supported, less alone, less isolated, and just let them know that there were other people walking this road with them,” Gallagher said.
“There were a lot of shared experiences and great camaraderie with new relationships that were able to form. What I liked about the group was that everyone was coming to different stages of single parenthood.
This includes parents with young children to older adults with high school students.
“It was good for older single parents to mentor younger single parents,” Gallagher said.
As for this year’s single parent support group meetings, they are in person. Gallagher hopes this translates to greater turnout.
“We just want to build this community with them,” Gallagher said.
Anyone interested in joining the single parent support group is welcome to email Gallagher.
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