Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Helping mother and child

PUBLICATION: The Ottawa Citizen
DATE: 2005.06.14
EDITION: Final
SECTION: City
PNAME: City Editorial
PAGE: C4
SOURCE: The Ottawa Citizen

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Helping mother and child

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In a world where drug dependency, a lack of education and teenage pregnancy are often linked, it's encouraging to see an institution such as the Youville Centre tackling all three in a holistic way.

The Sandy Hill facility helps young single mothers complete their high school educations, learn parenting skills and ultimately integrate into the work force. And since many of the mothers arriving at the centre are drug dependent, come from abusive relationships or have mental or emotional problems, the facility employs on-site councillors who provide appropriate social-support services.

Over its 18-year history, Youville has been successful in breaking the cycle of poverty, welfare and drug dependency many young women find themselves in. Proof of this can be seen in the $1,000 bursary the centre handed out last week to the now university-age child of one of its first clients.

If there's a cloud in front of the silver lining, it's that the centre currently has 92 people on its waiting list, and it only accepts girls with babies: those who have many of the same issues, but are without a child, must turn elsewhere. But there aren't a lot of options. Harvest House, another charitable organization doing yeoman's work in the fight against drug dependency, says it was forced to close its women's facility due to lack of funding.

All levels of government, and broader society, need to recognize the problem and ensure organizations such as the Youville Centre and Harvest House have the resources they need to help society's most vulnerable.

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