TLC empowers young moms

TLC empowers young moms
Six women graduated from the Best Start Network's TLC program for young mothers in Cornwall on Wednesday

By Adam Brazeau 
CORNWALL, Ontario – Kids don’t come with a manual, but six young mothers learned they have all the resources they need to become great parents.

A second cohort of the Teach and Learn with your Child (TLC) program graduated at a small ceremony on Wednesday (Jan. 28) at the Ontario Early Years Center in Cornwall.

“I still have stresses, but now my kids aren’t one of them,” said Jessica Albers.

In a heartfelt thank you highlighting the impact of the free 20-week program, Albers described herself as a ball of nerves when she started with TLC. But now she’s able to do day-to-day tasks with her children like groceries or going to a restaurant, which previously felt unmanageable.

“Through this program, I’ve learned a lot and my kids have grown,” she said.

The young mothers, who are also part of the Ontario Works LEAP (Learning, Earning and Parenting) program ranging in ages 16 to 25 with children three months to four years old, thanked members of the Best Start Network, a group of 11 community partners that rallied to offer TLC.

“What we saw was a gap in the community for support for young parents,” said Susan Billard, chair of the program’s steering committee, and a supervisor at CAS of SD&G.

Billard says young moms face a lot of barriers when it comes to accessing community services and the first of many is transportation. As an example, she described the difficulties single parents encounter when attempting to board a bus with a stroller, bags, and a child or children, especially when the stroller can’t be open on the bus and bus drivers aren’t allowed to assist them.

So to ensure all six young adults and their children made it to and from the weekly sessions, Charmic Limos and Tours volunteered its services, even going the extra mile by helping with their bags.

“We want the best for them and we want them to have the best experience of parenthood as possible,” said Billard.

The TLC program can be described as a ‘one-stop-shop’ for community services. Every Wednesday, the group enjoyed a ‘mommy and me’ playgroup atmosphere in the morning, where they learned about different ways to interact with their children. Childcare was provided in the afternoon, giving the young parents the opportunity to earn high school credits. The program also taught positive parenting techniques. TLC provided the mothers with free transportation, lunch, weekly groceries, connections to community resources, and cooking classes to help with meal planning.

Community partners included Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB), Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario (CDSBEO), Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU), Seaway Valley Community Health Centre, G.I.A.G. Day Care Staff, The Learning Centre Child Care, Cornwall Community Hospital (CCH), Children’s Aid Society (CAS) of S.D.&G., Agape Centre, Ontario Works – City of Cornwall, Child Care Services – City of Cornwall, Ontario Early Years Center, and Charmic Limos and Tours.

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