Therapeutic Interventions

1. Describe the status of the current single-parent family and identify long- and short-term personal and family goals. (1, 2, 3)

1. Take a complete family history, clarify family issues and concerns, and explore the immediate financial, social, and emotional needs of the household.

2. Ask the parent to detail any imminent changes for the child and family including custody, visitation, and possible moves.

3. Assist the parent in planning for long- and short-term goal attainment by: (1) Listing goals,

(2) identifying potential resources and roadblocks, and

(3) creating a strategy for success (or assign the "Achieving Family Goals" activity from the Parenting Skills Homework Planner by Knapp).

2. Assess financial needs and resources and determine an equitable plan for meeting the basic requirements of all the family members. (4, 5)

3. Negotiate with the co-parent for appropriate child-support. (6, 7)

4. Evaluate the family's financial, food, shelter, medical, and social needs and identify available resources and services. (8, 9)

5. Develop a plan for obtaining viable employment. (10, 11)

4. Assign the parent to create a list of all the family assets and a corresponding list of the family needs; assist in determining how to allocate the assets to cover the basic needs of the family.

5. Solicit a verbal commitment from the parent to collaborate with the co-parent to provide financial support for the children until they reach adulthood.

6. Assign the parent to negotiate and collect appropriate child support from the co-parent through voluntary or court-ordered contributions.

7. Support and encourage the single parent to pursue mediation or legal action if unable to reach an agreement with the co-parent about financial issues, custody, or visitation.

8. Refer the single parent to agencies that provide social, financial, and medical services; facilitate access to these resources.

9. Develop a plan with the parent for obtaining needed assistance by brainstorming solutions to any problems that may interfere (e.g., transportation, day care, appropriate clothing).

10. Assist the parent in planning a job search strategy or training curriculum.

11. Help the parent develop a written resume and prepare for job interviews by role playing responses to commonly asked questions.

6. Enroll in educational classes or training programs to enhance marketable skills and increase opportunities for employment. (12, 13)

7. Establish safe and stable housing for the family. (14, 15)

Arrange for affordable and quality day care through family, friends, or a day care referral service. (16, 17, 18)

12. Refer the parent to agencies that can help with a job search or training program to become more employable (e.g., Employment Security Commission, State Rehabilitation Services).

13. Assist the parent in identifying adult education, community-based instruction, or welfare-to-career programs designed to provide employment skills and work experience.

14. Assist the single parent in evaluating housing and the neighborhood environment in terms of safety, stability, and suitability; determine if unsafe living conditions are contributing to family volatility or the child's feelings of insecurity.

15. Assist the parent in enlisting the help of community agencies (e.g., Habitat for Humanity,; Department of Housing and Urban Development programs, (800) 569-4287) in finding safe and suitable housing.

16. Assign the parent to select quality day care by obtaining a list of licensed providers and thoroughly evaluating potential facilities.

17. Council the single parent to create a list of family and friends willing to provide emergency or back-up child care necessary for a working parent.

18. Instruct the parent to investigate after school programs for school-age children offered by

9. Secure an affordable family health care plan. (19, 20)

10. Express awareness that divorce or loss of a parent through absence or death can create severe emotional disruption for children of all ages. (21, 22)

11. Develop a cooperative plan with the co-parent for dealing with child management issues. (23, 24)

12. Verbalize a commitment to collaborate with the co-parent to resolve all problems and concerns involving the children. (25, 26)

school districts and community recreation departments.

19. Facilitate the parent in seeking employment that includes family health care benefits as part of the salary package.

20. Assign the uninsured single parent to apply for Medicaid or State Children's Health Insurance Program (see Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services:

21. Ask the single parent to discuss any immediate plans for change involving custody, visitation, or moving with the child and emphasize that consideration should be given to the effects of change on the child.

22. Assign the parent to read Successful Single Parenting (Richmond) or Single Parenting for Dummies (Peterson) to gain strategies for dealing with single-parent challenges.

23. Advise the parent to establish regular communication with the co-parent to discuss child management issues, establish a bond of cooperation, and present a united front to the child.

24. Develop a plan with the single parent in collaboration with the co-parent that sets clear expectations for the child in each home.

25. Encourage the single parent to strongly advocate for custody and visitation arrangements that are conducive to the emotional stability of the children.

Collaborate with the co-parent on major discipline issues. (27)

Reassure the child about personal security, express an awareness and empathy for the child's fears, and commit to maintain a close, loving relationship. (28, 29, 30)

Remain alert for signs and symptoms of the child's emotional distress and plan for addressing these problems. (31)

Inform the child's school about the current family status and request their help in resolving school-related issues. (32, 33)

26. Offer to arbitrate disputes and differences between the co-parents to reduce their level of conflict and increase their sprit of cooperation.

27. Instruct the single parent to discuss larger discipline issues with the co-parent, sharing individual perspectives, brainstorming solutions, and determining an approach that is acceptable to both parties.

28. Assign the single parent to use active listening techniques and to express an awareness of and empathy for the child's fears, feelings, questions, and concerns.

29. Council the single parent to shield the child from arguments with the co-parent and to resist using the child as a messenger in their disputes.

30. Instruct the parent that a loving, positive relationship with both parents is in the best interest of the child and advise against making derogatory comments about the other parent to the child.

31. Advise the single parent to watch for signs that the child is experiencing severe emotional distress and to schedule counseling for the child if necessary.

32. Instruct the parent to inform the child's teacher or the school counselor about the current family situation and develop a plan for the co-parents involvement in school-related

17. Engage personal, family, and community resources to successfully meet the challenges of single parenting. (34, 35, 36, 37)

issues (e.g., attendance at school functions, review of progress reports).

33. Advise the parent to request that supportive services be given to the child at school (e.g., divorce group counseling, individual counseling, academic support, peer mentoring) to help with adjustment to the family disruption.

34. Encourage the single parent to join a faith-based or community group that supports single parents or to access support from an Internet site (e.g., Single Parent Central,; Single Mothers Online,; Parents World,

35. Assign the single parent to attend a parenting class that offers guidance for the challenges faced by single parents (e.g., Becoming a Love and Logic Parent by Fay, Cline, and Fay or The Parent Talk System by Moorman and Knapp).

36. Council the single parent to join or form a children's playgroup to combine parent and child socialization while utilizing a low-cost and highly enjoyable activity.

37. Assist the single parent in reducing stress by scheduling some alone time or time with friends away from the children, and taking time for personal pampering (or assign the "Stress Reduction Strategies" activity from the Parenting Skills Homework Planner by Knapp).

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