Annual report of the Executive director of youville centre - Cindy Simpson
It is truly difficult to believe that I have completed my first year as Executive Director of Youville Centre. I wish to sincerely thank the Board of Directors, our former Executive Director Judi Sarginson, and the entire staff of Youville Centre for their assistance and patience as I transitioned into my new role.
I am deeply moved by the generosity of individual and corporate donors, service clubs, churches and community organizations who dig deep to provide much needed funds to allow us to continue to fulfill our mandate ...Judi Sarginson spoke of the “magic” of Youville Centre. Over the past year I have come to understand the depth of this statement as I observed staff and volunteers work tirelessly to provide support, programs and services to the young moms and children who attend our centre. I marvel at the number of partnerships that thrive at our centre to allow us to deliver a myriad of services to meet the complex needs of our clientele. I am deeply moved by the generosity of individual and corporate donors, service clubs, churches and community organizations who dig deep to provide much needed funds to allow us to continue to fulfill our mandate of serving at-risk teen mothers and their children. Mostly, I’ve come to understand true courage as I watch our young moms bundle up their children every day to come to our centre to attend school and programs that will enable them to build a brighter future for themselves and their children. These everyday heroes do this despite overwhelming obstacles of poverty, trauma, addiction, mental health issues, learning disabilities, fatigue, depression, and societal barriers that continue to discriminate against teen mothers. I feel blessed to be part of this wonderful organization.
June proved to be a very exciting month as Youville Centre held its graduation ceremony to celebrate the accomplishments of 21 young women who achieved their Ontario Secondary School Diploma from our M.F. McHugh Education program on-site. Many of our students participated in co-operative education or pre-apprenticeship programs or accessed the dual-credit program at Algonquin College. Thirty-six bursaries were awarded to current graduates, alumnae and the children of former students for post-secondary studies. The generosity of our donors is overwhelming and speaks to the commitment they have to helping our young mothers build a brighter future through furthering their education.
This year also boasted another very successful program; our Young Parent Employment Program (YPEP). In its second year, the YPEP program graduated eleven youth in June from this 22 week program, on-site at our Centre. This program funded through Service Canada and supported by staff from the Youth Services Bureau (YSB), was enthusiastically received by the youth who attended. They felt well prepared to enter their job placement after their initial three week orientation which provided them with the training and skills necessary to successfully enter the “world of work”.
Mental health/addiction counselling services remained available to our young mothers five days a week thanks to the fundraising efforts of Shepherd’s Fashions and funding for addiction counselling received from Health Canada’s Project s.t.e.p. flowed through United Way Ottawa. A grant proposal submitted to United Way Ottawa’s “Turning Lives Around” priority goal was successful and funding has been secured for the next three years for addiction services. Fundraising will continue to be an important goal to ensure that front-line support and mental health counselling both equal our level of demand for service.
In the fall we continued to be afforded the services of nurse practitioners from Sandy Hill Community Health Centre (SHCHC) on a bi-monthly basis. These nurses provided much needed medical care for our young mothers and their children. Unfortunately due to restructuring and fiscal constraints, SHCHC can no longer provide Youville Centre with this important service. In June, the Board of Directors at The Ottawa Hospital approved the allocation of a Young Women’s Health Centre – a Satellite Clinic of The Ottawa Hospital, at Youville Centre. Dr. Tania Dumont and her nurse Tammy Hewson, will be on-site bi-weekly to attend to some of the medical needs of our young mothers.
However, our young mothers, most of whom do not have family doctor, will be required to attend walk-in clinics to attend to the needs of their children. This certainly does add more stress to our young moms who often must miss school to wait many hours in these clinics to have their children seen by a doctor. Medical students from The University of Ottawa will assist us next year in helping us assess the medical needs of our young mothers and their children and assist them in accessing medical services in our community.
Dr. Tom Harle is our most recent Youville Angel! Dr. Tom Harle and his wonderful group of volunteer dentists and hygienists provide dental services to our moms and their children free of charge, on-site at Youville in their portable dental clinic, every Friday. This wonderful team has given our clients and their children another reason to smile by providing essential oral hygiene and restorative dental care for our young mothers and their children. Without Dr. Harle's generosity, many of our young moms and children would not have access to dental services.
Another exciting addition to our Centre this year is our parenting room. Youville Centre staff in partnership with Rosalie Hall, a young parents’ centre in Toronto, have been trained in an evidenced based attachment program entitled “Me, My Baby, Our World”. Our intake coordinator and staff from our child development program piloted this important program with two groups of young moms and their children in our newly established parenting room. Staff facilitated the identification of appropriate parenting strategies and the interpretation of a child’s verbal and non-verbal communication. These issues were explored by moms with their children present. Feedback from moms was extremely positive and an improved measure on a parenting stress indicator, and a depression scale was observed in moms at the end of the program. Funding secured from United Way under their “Growing Up Great” priority goal will enable us to offer this program to our entire student population for the next three years. This is great news for our Centre as we endeavour to help our moms become confident in their parenting skills.
Youville Centre is always grateful for the support provided to us by the Ministries of Education, Health and Long-term Care, Community and Social Services, and Children and Youth Services. Funders as United Way Ottawa and the Ontario Trillium Foundationprovide invaluable funds to enable us to provide all of the programs and services needed to serve our clients’ complex needs. Partnerships with other community agencies allow Youville staff to share in communities of practice and continue to hone their skills and share best practices when serving at-risk youth and children.
Our close working relationship with the M.F. McHugh Education Centre teaching staff enables our student support staff and our child development staff to holistically serve our clients and their children. The dedication of all staff in their desire to best meet the needs of our clients through attending professional development seminars or implementing evidence-based practices is commendable.
In closing, the Board of Directors needs to be applauded for their unwavering support of all initiatives at Youville Centre. Their gift of time and wisdom to our Centre is truly appreciated.
As we move into our 25th year and celebrate the amazing accomplishment of producing 428 Ontario Secondary School Graduates during this time, we continue to seek adequate, sustainable funding. Fundraising will continue to be a focus as we move into our next fiscal year, and as we endeavour to continue to provide comprehensive courses and services to our 21st Century learners and their children, so that when they leave Youville they do so as confident young parents embracing their future.