Mother’s Day is an occasion that holds a different meaning to everyone, and a day that brings reflection on what it means to be a mother. For some young moms, Choices for Youth’s Momma Moments program has been shaping that perspective for years.
The Momma Moments program has been a part of Choices for Youth (CFY) since 2003, spanning across the St. John’s metro area and Conception Bay South (CBS). The program was created in response to the significant number of pregnant and parenting young women who came to CFY for support. The program is a peer-to-peer support and strengths-based group for young parents or pregnant mothers, providing moms and their children with wrap-around support to navigate the challenges of motherhood. For some moms in the program, they often face traditional challenges of motherhood in addition to social isolation, financial demands, and limited social and family support. With the help and advocacy offered through the program, mothers can overcome barriers, build brighter futures, and break cycles of intergenerational challenges.
One Big Family
Momma Moments operates with the philosophy that every individual requires a diverse level of support, and support can be unique to each participant. The program helps moms through various stages of motherhood; whether it’s just beginning in pregnancy, support with young children, or advocating for moms further along in their journey of parenthood. Some newborns visit the group with their mom when they are just days old, a testament to the impact and value of the group in a mom’s life.
Real Life Impact
Every mom in the Momma Moments program is on a journey to set and achieve their own self-identified goals. The Momma Moments team was able to share just one of the many incredible stories of resilience, perseverance, and love that weave through the program:
“At the age of 19 a mom joined us with little supports and - in her words – fear, as she was going to become a mother within the year. Since her involvement with Momma Moments, she continues to utilize the health professionals offered through CFY for her mental health, post-natal support, and baby wellness. The mom is accessing the Momma Moments subsidized and supportive housing program and has no child protection involvement to date. The mom is a pleasure to have in group and encourages the peer-to-peer model, and our team is proud to have her as one of our role model moms to inspire her peers to reach for their goals in life.”
While the moms join the program for varying reasons, a common thread is the search for connection and lived experience that other parenting groups in our community do not offer. The participants welcome the peer-to-peer support that is offered while completing their education or embarking on their career path, while others join to access the social and wellness activities.
“We have an amazing 21-year-old mom who joined Momma Moments last year with her beautiful 18-month-old daughter. This mom actively takes part in the peer-to-peer group setting and the outreach component of the program. This mom has made connections with the other group participants and is responsive when staff check in with her to offer outreach supports”
A Safe Space
During the COVID-19 global pandemic, Momma Moments continued to deliver their wrap-around support by becoming creative and flexible; the Family and Natural Support Worker reached out to moms and families to support and develop care kits with a coffee drop off, snacks, crafts, and a hamper or meal.
Despite the on-going pandemic and the strict regulations, Momma Moments staff were able to continue to safely support both in-person and virtual group sessions.Moms could take a break, were able to talk about the positive things that happened during the week, and could connect with a supportive community.
Multiple Areas of Support
In addition to the Momma Moments team, CFY also has Family and Natural Support Workers on staff to support reconnection with family and offer natural supports for both current and former moms of the Momma Moments program. The Family and Natural Support Workers add an extra layer of support for moms accessing the program, helping them to navigate their own family relationships and ensure that the moms have a robust network of support around them.
“With the support of the Family and Natural Supports team, the mother and father were able to define guidelines for visitation, develop a visitation schedule, and start access between father and child. The Family and Natural Support team will continue to mediate between both parents, as necessary, while building their communication skills and strengthening their co-parenting relationship until support is no longer required.”
Their Futures are Supported
We all need support, and the right supports can open doors. Last year the Momma Moments program supported 84 moms and 124 kids to set and work towards healthy, stable and positive outcomes. The program provides help, advocacy, resources, guidance, and a peer-to-peer model that has proven positive impact in our community.
Momma Moments is a program rooted in prevention. The program supports moms and families so that the family unit is able to thrive and not become entrenched in homelessness or other challenging systems. The key is ensuring that families have the supports in place to overcome challenges, navigate systems, and access opportunities to create their own positive change.