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How a Social Worker is Helping Young and Low-Income Pregnant Moms

November 21, 2019

“I didn’t know who would help,” said Renee, age 20. “I was so relieved to find this place.”

A new baby brings a huge change into their parents’ lives: cuddles, laughter, sweetness, and lots of joy. Still, there is no doubt that babies are a challenge. New parents are dealing with the stress of 2 a.m. wakeups, smelly diapers, and suddenly being responsible for a tiny new life. Now imagine that stress—with the added burden of not knowing if you’ll be able to pay your bills.

That’s where our prenatal programs come in. These programs are available to new moms who need some extra support throughout their pregnancy and baby’s first months. Expectant women who participate gain the confidence and resources they need to improve their health during pregnancy and enhance their baby’s future growth and development.

We are grateful to receive funding for our prenatal programs from the Government of Canada; however, not all resources for new moms are covered by this funding. We rely on the generous support of our community to bridge the resource gap with the expert knowledge of a Social Worker and Dietitian, who are available to help new moms and their babies be as healthy as they can be.

Our Social Worker helps moms and moms-to-be at two prenatal programs: Teen Prenatal Supper Club and Healthy Start. The women at both programs share a range of challenges including mental health issues; little support from partners, parents or family; low income; and social isolation. These are compounded for many by having to adapt to a new country.

Keep reading to find out how our Social Worker helps new mothers deal with the five most common problems linked with low income:

1. Housing

Families in Peel wait up to 12 years for subsidized housing. (source)

Housing affordability is a huge concern in Peel Region, where families trying to access subsidized housing are currently facing wait times of up to twelve years. Teen parents, especially, face discriminative housing practices. Social Workers are experts in local resources and can help clients find affordable housing suitable to them and their families.

2. Healthy food access

Mississauga Food Bank provided community members with almost 3 million meals last year. (source)

Healthy food is important for pregnant women, but it can also be expensive. An expectant mom may have to choose between buying the nutrient-rich food recommended for herself and her baby or paying the rent to keep her family safe and sheltered. No one should have to make that choice.

A Social Worker can help families access financial assistance to stay fed and healthy—this can include helping with Ontario Works paperwork or finding other sources of funds. For families who just need a little extra help, a Social Worker can refer them to a local food bank to add healthy options to their meals.

At our Teen Prenatal Supper Club and Healthy Start programs, we also provide grocery gift cards so participants can purchase healthy food throughout the week.

A donation of $15 provides a grocery gift card so a pregnant teen can buy healthy food for herself and her baby.

3. Mental health

Young families living in poverty are one small change away from a financial disaster.

In addition to facing food and housing instability, young parents dealing with poverty are under the constant stress of living cheque to cheque—something as small as a transit cost increase could eat into the budget they need to pay for food, rent, utilities, and other essentials. All these factors together lead to high rates of anxiety and depression in low income families.

A Social Worker can provide one-on-one counselling to help with these issues at Healthy Start and Teen Prenatal Supper Club, and, for moms who would like more in-depth support, they can provide referrals to local agencies.

We work to eliminate financial barriers for prenatal program participants by providing bus tickets for travel to and from the programs.

A donation of $124 provides bus tickets to all Teen Prenatal Supper Club participants.

4. Legal issues

Hiring a lawyer for a tenant-landlord dispute can cost $225-$300 per hour. (source)

Expectant moms and new parents on low incomes can face unique legal issues at work—like being fired or having their hours cut back for being pregnant—and at home—such as a landlord trying to evict a family after receiving one too many complaints about a crying baby. A Social Worker can help families navigate these conflicts by referring them to legal clinics, which offer free legal advice and assistance to people who are unable to pay for a lawyer.

5. Domestic violence

1 in 10 women experience domestic violence while pregnant. (source)

To a young woman who is afraid to open up about the violence she is facing from her partner or family, a Social Worker can be a great source of support. A Social Worker can also help a client access shelters to keep her and her baby safe if she makes the difficult decision to leave an abusive living situation.

This #GivingTuesdayCA, help us bridge the gap in resources.

A donation of $52 funds a Social Worker to present a workshop on Facing Life’s Challenges for all Teen Prenatal Supper Club participants.

Support a pregnant mother today. Grow a future for her child tomorrow.