*All names and identifying details have been changed to protect confidentiality.
Rachel started dating James when she was 16. Two days before her 17th birthday, she found out she was pregnant. Determined to be a family, Rachel and James moved in together. Rachel quit school and got a job at Tim Horton’s; James found sporadic, part-time work. The following spring, Rachel gave birth to Maddy.
The following two years were tumultuous. James could not hold down a job and spent his days at home gaming and smoking a lot of pot.
He always had a short temper, and it got worse as time passed. Rachel became the sole earner. The daily routine was exhausting with the multiple bus trips to get Maddy to daycare, get to work, and then do the reverse at the end of the day. There was no reprieve for Rachel at home. James was not interested in helping with Maddy, and he scared Rachel with the volatile, angry outbursts.
Rachel had reached out to Nicole at The Cridge Young Parent Outreach Program when she first found out she was pregnant. She appreciated the pre-natal supports Nicole helped her access, then help secure daycare for Maddy. She also needed Nicole to listen. As James’s behaviour became scarier, Nicole talked to Rachel about leaving James to The Cridge Transition House. Rachel was not ready to take those steps, so Nicole continued to meet Rachel where she was at and offer information and support on Rachel’s terms.
After two and a half years of walking alongside Rachel, supporting her on her own terms, and building relationships and trust, Rachel was ready to leave James. She reached out to Nicole to help her get into a transition house. Rachel is now living in her own safe place with daughter Maddy. Her market rental apartment is more than she can afford, but it was the best she could find. Nicole helps her manage with some monthly grocery cards and a small rent supplement through our Homelessness Prevention Program (HPP). And she is still there to listen. Rachel and Maddy are safe, but life is still hard. Rachel has dreams of going back to school and getting a better job.
She knows Nicole will help her get there when she is ready.
The Cridge Young Parent Outreach Program does not limit the length of time a young mom can receive support from the program or requirements about how or how much a young mom must engage with the program. The program knows that lives are not changed or helped by “outcome timelines” and other unrealistic expectations. Meeting young moms where they are at, steadfast support, relationship and trust, make the difference. Just ask Rachel.
By Marlene Goley, Manager of The Cridge Transition House and Outreach Service