The rationale for the development of effective programs for parents with serious mental illness and their children is compelling. Using qualitative methods and a grounded theory approach with data obtained in site visits, seven existing programs for parents with mental illness and their children in the United States are described and compared across core components: target population, theory and assumptions, funding, community and agency contexts, essential services and intervention strategies, moderators, and outcomes. The diversity across programs is strongly complemented by shared characteristics, the identification of which provides the foundation for future testing and the development of an evidence base. Challenges in program implementation and sustainability are identified. Qualitative methods are useful, particularly when studying existing programs, in taking steps toward building the evidence base for effective programs for parents with serious mental illness and their children.