8 June 2022
Talking with Carlo prior to the Golf Tournament meeting held at EH and he was surprised to learn that EH is celebrating its 40 years of providing services to young mothers in difficulty and their children. I thought it would be good timing to talk a little about the history of EH and some of the changes over the decades. We will be starting a piece of work that will look at societal changes, changes in the client profile and needs and how these factors informed and influenced clinical programming.
Mid to late 60’s
- Anglican and United Church communities became aware of and then focused its attention on the need for services to support pregnant adolescents. These communities deliberated on how to best meet the needs of this population and of the community,
- Approached the Presbyterian church which readily consented to share the responsibility and the cost of such services.
- June 11, 1968 EH officially opened on Marlowe in a building it rented, and soon after purchased, from the Sheltering Home of Montreal.
- It welcomed its first clients in the residence – young pregnant girls, from middle to upper class families who “made a mistake”; they would continue their high school education at EH, they were sheltered during their pregnancy, they delivered healthy babies, placed those babies for adoption and returned home to a relatively stable environment and picked up their lives where they left off 7-9 months earlier.
- Most people describe these years as the time when young girls were “gone to an aunts”
- Served 40-60 mothers
- EH was transferred from the jurisdiction of the church to the Ministry of Social Affairs which provided a budget for services but not for capital expenditures or renovations.
- Numbers were dropping; operating at only 50% capacity
- This was due to the increased availability of abortions, increased availability of birth control, increased acceptance of single parenthood and unwed motherhood. // stigma
- Many young women were now choosing to keep their babies, they no longer came from stable homes and very often did not have a home to return to
- This change in society and the evolving needs of the clients focused EH on the development of specialized programs and services to help young mothers.
Late 70’s and through the 80’s
- Ongoing development/adaptation of programs and supports for young mothers in difficulty (external services, for example).
- We noticed that most girls (80%) were keeping their babies; high representation from the black community, low literacy levels, unstable families.
90’s (and into this century)
- Implemented formal clinical programs, procedures and processes; developed a strong rehabilitation component to programs and services.
- Implemented formal administrative policies, procedures and practices in administration.
- Developed formal partnerships with others providing services to this population to ensure that resources are maximized
- They were deciding raise their children and not place them for adoption, many moms’ and babies are under youth protection, all living in poverty and have suffered a disorganized family life – no stability and no meeting of basic needs, not meeting developmental milestones of children
- Recognized experts in the field of adolescent pregnancy and in working with young mothers in difficulty.
- 140-160 a year, in residential, external and transition apartment programs
- Moms between 13 and 30 roughly;
- 100% want to keep babies however not all can-focus is on what is best for the baby.
- Also work with dads and families – considered clients along with the baby and mother
- Diverse clientele – economic, education, culture, presenting issues
- Important partnerships – for example, EMSB, CSSS, community organizations working with this population, Youth protectionP, DKG
- Literacy program structured programs and focused clinical work which is achieving positive outcomes and success stories.
Through the work at EH we confirm that this population needs three things: stability, opportunity and support in order to be contributing members of society and to raise healthy families. One of our most recent pieces of advocacy work was designed to meet just these needs.
- Started a transitional housing project for ex-clients and other young families needing housing and support services to stabilize their families.
- 29 2 and 3 bedroom apartments, negotiated rent subsidies for all of the apartments; we raise money to provide support services and guidance as these families get on their feet.
Through all of our work (residence, external program, work in the community, housing projects, school program, etc..) we have documented many positive successes and outcomes of our work. I wanted to share the most important ones with you because they will clearly illustrate how the donation is making a difference!
- Mom’s are no longer socially isolated
- They develop realistic educational or vocations long-term plans
- They have an increased sense of self esteem
- They have a support network that includes community resources
- Fathers involvement in the child’s life is increased to the extent possible
- Families are able to live independently in the community