Preparing for the unexpected

As a single parent, one of the most important things you can do for yourself and your family is create a safety net of support—people you trust and can rely on for backup child care and for advice, resources, and support when you need it. You may reciprocate and be part of their safety net as well. Having a safety net will make your family life easier and will provide the help you need during emergencies or when the unexpected happens. Your child will feel more secure and you will, too.

Creating a safety net means having a backup plan in place in case there's no school and you need child care because you have to go to work. It means having a place for your child to stay when he is sick and cannot attend school. It means having another adult you can call to step in for you to show support when you can't make it to an event in your child's life because of another commitment. It also means appointing a guardian who will assume custody of your children if you become unable to take care of them, as in cases of extreme illness. The person who jumps in to care for your child in a pinch and the one you entrust to take in your child for the long term may not necessarily be the same person.

Your safety net may include family, friends, and neighbors of various ages. Call on people when you need them. And be there for them when they need you, too.

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