CORNWALL, Ontario – Cornwall City Council endorsed a pitch to build a maternity home for new mothers and their children at their meeting on Monday, Oct. 28.
The idea for the maternity home was pitched and is being spearheaded by the Cornwall Compassion Centre.
The Cornwall Compassion Centre is one arm of the Harvest Fellowship Church on York St., and helped setup Heart of the Family a 24/7 daycare not far from the church.
Now, they want to start supporting moms and families even earlier.
The proposed maternity home would provide living space to 18 mothers and their children. Mothers can refer themselves to stay at the home, which will have three houses, split into six units each and will be furnished.
The goal of the maternity home will be to provide mothers with support and to teach them the skills they need to become successful mothers, and keep their children out of the foster system.
Mothers could begin their stay at the home starting in the second trimester and could stay until the child is nine months old.
Additionally, mothers could enter the home as late as six weeks after their child is born.
“There are a number of moms every single year who would benefit from a maternity home in our community,” said Kimberly Tran of the Children’s Aid Society. “There is a very high instance of teen pregnancy in Cornwall and SD&G.”
The nearest similar home is in Ottawa, and the next closest, Toronto. Tran explained that the detriment of these centres is that they bring mothers away from their support networks.
“We are talking about them leaving everyone that they know for a very long time,” she said.
The project would seek funding from ODSP and $195,000 from the province for operating costs. Councillor Dean Hollingsworth asked what would happen if they did not receive funding from the province.
Dick D’Alessio, President of the Cornwall Compassion Centre said that he was committed to the idea’s success.
“What I’m saying to the province is, we are not going to invest $500,000 or more to something that might not get funding the next year,” he said. |If we are successful, and we will be successful, there is no cost to the province, they are just transferring funds.”
D’Alessio explained that if even three of the 18 mothers staying at the centre kept their children, then the province would make it’s money back, but said he was hoping for a much higher success rate.
Council voted in favour of providing a letter of support for the maternity home.
“I’m blown away. It ticks off so many boxes,” said Councillor Carilyne Hébert, who is also Executive Director of the Social Development Council. “There are so many dollars provincially that are going to support families that are living in poverty. If we give them the tools to succeed, they wouldn’t have to rely on those government dollars and could become a productive member of society.”
Dan Parkinson, former Chief of the Cornwall Police Service and Board Member of the Cornwall Compassion Centre praised council for their support.
“It is really gratifying to see that there is someone who sits at this table and on the Social Development Council who gets it, who totally gets it,” Parkinson said, explaining that he believed that youth crime was not something that the police could arrest their way out of, and that the best way to fight youth crime was in the high chair.