This grant will help young mothers, 16-24, living in Springfield work towards economic security by participating in The Care Center‘s education program. This includes:
- Individualized and self-paced high school equivalency (HiSET) preparation classes, computer instruction, and English as a Second Language classes;
- An enhanced educational, college preparatory curriculum (New Directions) integrating arts, humanities, science, athletics, and experiential learning to jump-start and accelerate the progress of young mothers;
- Bridge to College Program, a student support program providing participants with courses, workshops, and personal advising related to college preparation, selection, and application, as well as academic and personal support for Care Center participants in their first year of college;
- Bard Microcollege Holyoke (BMH), the nation’s first fully accredited college for low-income young mothers. Students who successfully complete the course requirements receive an Associate in Arts degree from Bard College.
In addition to the Educational Program, Care Center participants will also receive comprehensive Support Services, which are designed to remove barriers to participation and promote participants’ academic and career success. Support services include:
- Pre-vocational activities, job development services, placement, and follow-up to effectively prepare each participant for the next step; support their transition to education, training, or employment; and ensure the smooth transition of their children to a new daycare;
- A case management, advocacy and referral system that supports young mothers to achieve personal goals, provides referrals and advocacy to mothers and children, and helps mothers and children access a broad range of community resources;
- On-site childcare in a licensed daycare for infants and toddlers of young mothers;
- Breakfast, lunch, and snacks for both mothers and children;
- Weekly life, nutrition, health, and parenting skills workshops to provide information and group support on critical subjects to enable young mothers to make healthy choices and live independently;
- Dental care and an on-site nurse practitioner from Western Massachusetts Physicians Associates, providing pregnancy testing, maternity counseling, preventive health education, acute care, and referrals for health care, treatment of sexually transmitted infections, and pediatric care;
- Ongoing and confidential mental health services, including individual counseling, home visits, support groups, and referrals for young mothers in need of more intensive therapy;
- Door-to-door transportation through four agency-leased vans throughout Springfield and between Springfield and Holyoke to enable both young mothers, their children, and their family members to access Care Center programs and other provider services across the area as needed.