United Way-funded Program Works to Break Cycle by Educating, Housing Young Moms
There is no doubt that our parents have an enormous impact on who we become as adults.
They are our first relationships, our first teachers, they show us everything from how to cook our eggs in the morning to how to deal with conflict.
Perhaps more than anything, they serve to teach us what it means to be a parent and influence how we might act as parents ourselves.
But some kids don’t get to have that role-model, often because their parents didn’t have one.
The United Way-funded program, Young Aboriginal Mother’s Transitional Housing at Tillicum Lelum, works to break the cycle by educating and housing young moms.
The transitional housing program is available to aboriginal mothers between the ages of 18-25 who are new or expecting, and are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. Up to three mothers and their children can stay at the Young Mothers House at a time.
Getting young moms from transitional to stable, independent housing is an important goal of the program, but teaching them what they and their kids need to know to create a happy and resilient family is a key aspect.
“In general, most of the moms that come to stay with us here at the young mom’s house lots of times have very little in the way of life skills,” says Breeze Elliott, co-ordinator for the Young Mothers Transition House.
“Lots of times they just come from families where they’ve never had that role modelled. Lots of times they’ve come from foster care,” says Elliott.
While at the transition house, moms take part in programming that can teach them everything from preparing a budget to cooking, job training and parenting skills, in addition to supporting them to pursue further education and other resources like dentist services, counselling and more.
The goal is to keep mother and child together and break the cycle.
“It’s so important to set kids up for future successes,” says Elliott. “I mean the loss of a caregiver at an early age is a huge determinant factor to a future of unstable mental health and addictions.”
While United Way-supported programs like this one are there to help keep mother and child together, Elliott says the need outstrips the capacity, and that the housing crisis makes affording standard rental housing extremely difficult for a single parent. As for subsidized housing, one of the program’s moms has been waiting a year for a space to open up. “We’ve had moms on the waitlist for two years,” says Elliott.