in 2014 the Los Angeles Times reported the staggering statistic that today 12% of Santa Clarita families are headed by single parents (Mapping LA, Los Angeles Times, 2014). This places Santa Clarita with more single parents than affluent cities like Studio City and Marina Del Rey AND more than disadvantaged cities like Northeast Antelope Valley and Arleta. Santa Clarita is NOT a good place to be a single mother, especially if you are minority, under-educated, or haven't worked for awhile. With an average family size of 3 and limited services for the disadvantaged, the overwhelming majority of families served by SMO earn $15,000 or less per year. Housing changes in the previous 6 months are the norm, either because of foreclosure, eviction, or inability to afford previous housing. Nearly all are unemployed or underemployed. Today, the California Family Economic Self-Sufficiency Standard projects that a single mother with one preschooler and one school aged child would need to work more than three full time, minimum-wage jobs to meet the most basic expenses. And the reality is that all of the stressors that single moms go through affect their children. Our community is full of children facing psychosocial stress from either the death, divorce, or abandonment of a parent, as well as poverty, higher risks for academic failure, alcohol and drug use, and even juvenile delinquency.
1. Be the #1 resource for single parents in the vast Santa Clarita Valley region by providing comprehensive and timely services to meet their needs.
2. Raise community awareness of single parents’ unique challenges and the impact those challenges have on society at large and Santa Clarita in particular.
3. Set single parents on a successful path toward financial, emotional and psychological self-sufficiency.
4. Create a platform for single parents to voice their challenges, needs, and concerns
5. Expand organizational sustainability.
Connecting to Helpful Resources
SMO connects single parents to vital community resources. SMO provides emergency stabilization for families who are in real danger of losing everything. SMO provides families with donated food, emergency housing placement, donated clothing, school book subsidies for children, free backpacks filled with school supplies, and critical social service resources for mothers struggling with basic living skills or mental illness.
Case management will provide initial intake assessments to make sure as many needs as possible are met, as quickly as possible. Good case management by experienced staff guides the agency’s ability to provide advocacy and resources on an individual, personal basis. Women who have lost their spouses through divorce, widowhood show up at SMO’s doors with varied and unique needs; case management meets them where they are.
“SMO has not yet been tainted by the ugliness that is social work sometimes. SMO exists to help without pretension, greed, or gossip. Clients of SMO are able to receive help in its purest form without being bogged down by paperwork, policies, or the personal interest of staff. I understand that SMO is growing and that is a good thing. I trust that it's spirit, however, will remain in tact because YOU are all running it and your leadership combined with the help of all the awesome volunteers is magic. That's what SMO is, it's magic.”
- Digna Yepez, MSW Intern
Connecting Parent to Parent
SMO connects single parents to each other. Single parents frequently experience community isolation. Parents are empowered when they connect with other parents for resource sharing, support, friendship, and networking. The Online SMO SCV Support Group helps single parents connect, support, network, share resources, and encourage one another throughout the day. Generous donations of large items such as cars, major appliances, computers, and furniture are communicated and distributed through this web group continuously. Monthly Support Groups connect parents one-to-one to facilitate friendships leading to connection and support.
“SMO helped my family with peace of mind and a compassionate connection to others in a way that my children had never witnessed and will never forget.” -SMO parent
SMO provides training programs to facilitate low-income parents getting a job, stopping financial free-fall, and attaining the life skills necessary to raise their families alone. Programs include:
Financial Program - helps single parents increase their employability, manage their money, expand their emergency savings, decrease their debt, and make career choices that will strengthen their financial futures. The financial program uses a validated, internationally known training protocol that is taught in a formal, 9-week format. Developed to create participant accountability for program adherence and completion, participants learn about topics such as the importance of saving for emergencies; budgeting; bargain shopping; getting out of debt; understanding investments, insurance, collection practices, credit bureaus and mortgages; the need for retirement and college planning; and other financial matters. Last year, the program successfully helped participants pay off an average of $1482 per person, while simultaneously saving an average of $986 per person.
“I completed FPU three times (almost) and worked with Kristen and Janelle in order to understand my situation and take control of it... Each week I shared with them a personal goal I had moved toward or shared a struggle with the amazing women who stepped up to the plate to change their lives.
Without the guidance, determination, and empowering activities, who knows where this veteran would be today.” -SMO parent
Workforce Development - offers computer-training programs to help parents gain marketable skills to compete for jobs. Offered in partnership with College of the Canyons and The Work Source Center, participants are trained in all fundamental office software programs and are provided with career assessment seminars, resume-building services, tips for effective interviews, job fair preparation, and professional donated clothing for job interviews.
Emotional Stabilization - SMO provides bilingual counseling and resources to resolve mental health challenges as the result of unemployment, economic pressures, domestic violence, and a lack of family support. In addition to comprehensive case management, SMO provides parents in deep crisis with ongoing, weekly individual counseling and group counseling to single parents with limited access to mental health services.
Life Skills Workshops - use professionals in specific fields to teach classes on topics including personal finance, healthy relationships, career and education, family law, and health and wellness. These workshops will be provided monthly through direct service provision or through community partnerships with Santa Clarita Valley’s Zonta Life-Forward Workshops and College of the Canyons Career Services Department
Single parenting is challenging at best. SMO provides a variety of incentives and rewards to families who are on a path of empowerment.
Make a Mother’s Day - Mother’s Day usually arrives with flowers, breakfast out, and gifts aimed to pamper and celebrate that special mother in our lives. For some mothers, however, it’s just another day and often a painful memory. Although these women love their children as much as other mothers, most single mothers do not receive the same show of appreciation. Each year, Single Mothers Outreach honors the mothers in the program with wonderful food, flowers, chocolates and more. Awards are given annually to inspiring parents in the areas of education, financial, and volunteer empowerment.
“With so many single parents in our valley, and more to come, SMO is the only support system in place for those like myself, a single mom for 13 years. I’ve never had my son's father give any support of any kind. Other than my mother, who passed away last October, SMO has been my "go to" when I had a need, other than perhaps, churches or Child and Family Center. As a single parent, there is a unique set of circumstances that we face and SMO has always come alongside us parents to help, guide, support and empower our families with hope.” - SMO parent
Adopt-a-Family - Hard working single parents are provided a way to make a warm and wonderful holiday memory with their children. Local churches, community groups, neighbors and individuals “adopt” SMO parents and their children and provide them with gifts, ice-skating, parties, and more.
“Smart Money Smart Kids has given my kids a better perspective on spending and saving money. Food donations has fed my family. The forums have given us a dining room table and chairs, a living room set and a desk. My kids hate being in need, but they admit, your services don't make them feel that way. That warms my heart and makes me feel better as a parent. I'm not receiving handouts and staying in rough ruts, I'm getting genuine help and a simple boost.” - SMO parent
Investing in Single Parent Families