Network gives single parents support

Kim Claussen

Single parents will soon have a new support system available on the ISU campus.

The Single Parent Support Network is designed to let single parents discuss the issues that face them with other single parents, said Andrea Conner, graduate student in educational leadership and policy studies.

“We know that a lot of single parents feel isolated and get overwhelmed,” she said. “We want them to be able to get together and share their ideas. It is important for them to know that there are others out there in the same position. We want to give them a sense of community.”

Penny Rosenthal, director of Off-Campus and Adult Student Services, said she created the Single Parent Support Network because she knows the isolation that being a single parent can cause.

“Single parents are often isolated on campus and in the community,” she said. “Our society tends to set up stigmas about them. They are vulnerable.”

Conner said she has some ideas to contribute, but the majority of the discussion will be led by the group members.

“It is going to be what the attendees want it to be. Penny and I will be there to facilitate the meetings, but we want them to guide the discussions,” she said. “They need to discuss the issues that they are facing.”

Childcare is one of the biggest concerns for single parents, so the Single Parent Support Network is trying to set up a child care co-op, Conner said. The co-op would allow group members to take turns caring for each other’s children.

“By implementing this system of child care, we are trying to ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity for child care, and one or two people don’t get stuck carrying the load,” she said.

Rosenthal said she would like to hold meetings on a weekly basis but connecting with students may be difficult.

“The only problem is going to be coordinating the meeting times with their schedules and responsibilities,” she said. “I would like to see them meeting with each other outside of the scheduled times so that the network is on-going.”

Conner said she has already received responses from several people who are interested in joining the group.

“I have already gotten a lot of positive responses to the initial e-mail we sent out. Everyone that I’ve talked to is really excited,” she said. “Oftentimes, single parents feel like they have no one to turn to.”

Both Conner and Rosenthal encourage anyone interested in joining the Single Parent Support Network to contact the Off-Campus and Adult Student Services, located in Room B6 of the Memorial Union.

Informational meetings will be held at 2 p.m. Friday and at 9 a.m. Saturday in Room 230 of the Memorial Union. Child care will be provided.