Ten years ago, our Cridge supported daycare at Vic High (Higgins House) was faced with insurmountable challenges – no space and no funding. Vic High needed the daycare space for its expansion. The Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) decided to stop funding support daycares. Higgins House had to close. But The Cridge was not about to give up on the young moms and their children!
The question was – how were we going to go forward with our commitment to supporting young moms and their children. We attended community meetings and plotted and strategized. It became apparent that many young moms throughout the Capital Region needed support to face the challenges of adulthood and parenting, not just the ones who were attending Vic High or connected to daycare. Outreach support seemed the obvious approach.
Funding was cobbled together, and Nicole Andrews was scooped up from Higgins House and launched into creating The Cridge Young Parent Outreach Program (YPOP). She started out in the corner of the Cridge Daycare front office, using her own vehicle, supporting 12 young families on very part-time hours. Demand for the program increased, more funding was cobbled together for more hours, a bigger office was created, a program vehicle purchased, and Nicole’s caseload more than doubled. Ten years later, Cridge YPOP has actual program space (in Unit #6), the car is still going strong, and so is Nicole who juggles up to 30 young moms and 40 children.
What has Cridge YPOP meant to the young moms who have accessed the program? Here are some of the comments from over the years:
“I have been able to do things on my own which was never possible for me. It has helped me be a better parent to my children and I have learned how to cope with my everyday life which was not the case before I started working with my [Outreach] worker”.
“When I feared of failing as a parent and where on earth to go in my life – help was offered by wise words and resources”.
“The program helped me get my daughter back, facilitated access, mentored me and counselled me. I am forever grateful”.
“Nicole mainly helped me deal with the social stigma about being a low-income single parent. Nicole also helped me gain enough self-esteem to join the workforce”.
We are so blessed to work with all of these families and to have had the support of all the other Cridge programs in giving us space and working so closely with us.
We are celebrating our 10th Anniversary COVID style. Families are visiting the YPOP space all during the week of July 13 to have some treats, do some shopping in the Free Store, and to make a “Growing Together” scrapbook.
By Marlene Goley, Manager of The Cridge Transition House and Outreach Services