We all want to have a safe place where we feel supported. Sometimes we receive that support from our immediate families, and sometimes we find supportive people and places that become part of our extended family.
In late 2018, Mile High United Way began offering Center for Family Opportunity services at Florence Crittenton High School in Denver. Centers for Family Opportunity help to provide the necessary, and innovative, steps for families to move out of poverty and towards economic stability and self-sufficiency.
Services typically include case management, financial empowerment, employment support, skills-building, legal services, and basic needs support. At Florence Crittenton services include financial literacy workshops through mPowered, employment counseling through Goodwill, and free tax services to Florence Crittenton students, staff, and their families through Denver Asset Building Coalition.
These specific services are provided by Mile High United Way’s partner organizations and all of these services are accessible in one place. It can be difficult for anyone, even if you’re extremely motivated, to navigate a variety of disconnected services.
And when you’re a mother, or someone’s sole care provider, your daily concern is your child and how to access the resources to give them what they need. These young moms ultimately have to choose between what’s best for their children right now or what’s best for both of them long-term.
And most of the time these moms can’t afford to think about long-term economic self-sufficiency.
In partnership with Mile High United Way, Florence Crittenton is working to change those odds. With a two-generation program model, young mothers and teen families can break the cycle of poverty through education, health and wellness, and economic and social asset building. Florence Crittenton’s mission is to educate, prepare, and empower teen mothers and their children to become productive members of the community.
This program model helps these moms afford to invest in long-term economic self-sufficiency for themselves and their families.
The two-generation service model doubles the national high school graduation rate of teen mothers and ensures that their children are kindergarten-ready. This effect is two-fold.
Moms are able to complete their GED which gives them more opportunities such as access to better employment options with higher pay, workable hours, and health insurance while their children aren’t falling behind in school.
While these moms are taking the time to finish school, their children have the opportunity to be enrolled in an early childhood education program which supports children six weeks through five years old (Pre-K). The goal is to help these children develop core competencies including readiness to learn and social-emotional and cognitive development. And so these moms don’t need to worry about the basic necessities for their children, a “Basic Needs Boutique” was created to provide everything a child might need from diapers and wipes to socks and blankets. The boutique helps to promote a community of support that these moms might not have otherwise.
Currently, there are over 115 moms and over 100 children enrolled in the program who are committed to their future success. Some of the moms commute from far away, and use public transportation to get back and forth from school to home.
“They choose to come here and we let them know how important that is” said Theresa, the volunteer and special events coordinator at Florence Crittenton.
One student reflected on her experience by saying that, “I don’t think I could find that support somewhere else. When you have to do things for somebody else, it changes your mindset. I realized it wasn’t all about me anymore. I had to have an education and a career to support my kids.”
Because their focus is on the future, and their children, these moms deserve to know how supported they are. That’s why Mile High United Way’s corporate partners and volunteers took the time to let these moms know that it is “still about them” too.
PwC and NREL employees put together over 50 “Confidence Kits” for the moms at Florence Crittenton.
These kits included all of the personal items that women need, but may not have the time to think about when they’re taking care of their children and focusing on finishing school. Each kit had a personalized note on the front with phrases like, “You go girl!” When moms opened their kits, they found cosmetic pouches with brushes, shampoo, and hygiene items so they could feel their best.
This was a chance for these young women to know how supported they are in their journeys. And sometimes that kind of support takes a whole community.
“These moms are brave, dedicated, inspiring, and they chose the harder path that’s truly going to pay off in the long-run,” Theresa said. These moms are proving that investing in the long-term is worth it.
To learn more about the services offered at Florence Crittenton, click here.