Daisy is a single mother of a 3-year-old and a college student. She is close to graduating from Bentley University with a bachelor’s degree in accounting and has eyes on graduate school. She is filled with confidence and poise, ready to take on the world. A few years ago, this wasn’t the case.

“My first year of college, I really struggled with finding and affording childcare. I had trouble paying for books and managing it all,” shared Daisy. “I struggled with my first few semesters of college; I felt like I had no support system.” Daisy was able to find her support system through JF&CS Healthy Families, a program for first-time parents under the age of 21, and later through One Family, a new partner organization for JF&CS.

A Network of Support

Daisy made it through her associate degree with support from Healthy Families and One Family. Being partnered with a coach who supported her and her daughter made all the difference. The challenges for at-risk single parents are immense; beyond studying and paying for college, they are also working to support and raise their children in a challenging economy. Healthy Families helps new parents find their strengths, learn more about child development and work toward being the parent they want to be.

Healthy Families provided child development assessments for Daisy’s daughter, giving her knowledge she needed as a young, first-time parent. Daisy’s coach assisted her in finding childcare, provided vouchers for textbooks and supported her with home visits. Healthy Families and One Family helped Daisy find the confidence to complete her program at Mass Bay Community College. When Daisy graduated from Healthy Families last February, she was accepted as a One Family scholar, where she was encouraged to continue her studies at Bentley University.

One Family, an organization working to prevent homelessness and promote economic independence for families in Massachusetts, partners with students like Daisy to ensure they are on track to graduate and enter a family-sustaining career in their chosen field. Nationally, the average graduation rate for single mothers is 28 percent. The scholars saw a graduation rate of 75 percent in 2018, much higher than the national average for all students, which falls at 46 percent.

A Winning Partnership

The One Family scholars program served 100 single parents in the past year. “We rely on partners like JF&CS to refer families they are working with to the program,” said One Family executive director Val Paric. “JF&CS is doing amazing work; they exemplify a community partnership model. JF&CS is very mission and philosophically-aligned. Together, we work to leverage each other’s expertise. I’m thrilled to have such a great partnership, and I’m excited to deepen the partnership in the future.” One Family provides Daisy with coaching and flexible financial aid.

One Family also brought in JF&CS staff to speak to their coaches about better understanding broader issues impacting scholars, such as recognizing and supporting a client dealing with domestic violence. “JF&CS has staff that are experts,” shared Paric. “They brought in staff to work with our coaches; it’s something that our team members still talk about having made a huge impact.”

Before finding Healthy Families, Daisy wasn’t sure if she would be able to stay in school. The support of JF&CS meant the opportunity to achieve her dreams and the chance to continue her studies even further with One Family. “I did not believe I could ever attend a school like Bentley, or even think about affording it,” she shared. “I really struggled with having confidence in myself. One Family means having someone to support you and care about you. Sometimes you just need a little push and someone to believe in you.”

To learn more about our resources for first-time parents under the age of 21, visit our Healthy Families page.

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