Oshawa has the highest teen pregnancy rating in Durham making it difficult for young parents to find support. However, there are many support systems to help find them success, such as The Rose of Durham.
Rose of Durham opened in 1988 and focuses primarily on supporting young parents and transitioning them into the role of mother or father, including providing the necessary tools and guidance they needed for success.
Executive director, Janet Chapelle, said having a child while young presents certain obstacles, alternate directions, and roadblocks for the parent. But for young people who, for example, wanted to be a teacher before pregnancy, they can still accomplish that goal. It will require more time for completion, but the opportunity remains.
“Being a young parent myself, the best advice I would give young parents is to not give up on any of your dreams,” says Chapelle, who had a daughter at 17. “Giving up on your dreams is the example you’re giving your child and by achieving your dreams, that is a better example you’re setting for your child.”
During a young parent’s time at Rose, they’re able to sign up for many programs that help better prepare them for parenthood. They are required to do an “intact” (session) with a selected counsular, providing details about their story, how they became pregnant, and their current situation. Expectant parents will then be able to select many prenatal care classes run by the public health department that provide information needed for parenthood.
Additionally, Rose offers teenage mothers 21 and under a schooling program. They can earn credits while on-site with a teacher from the Durham District School Board and will be able to use their gained credits to apply for post-secondary education.
“Ontario Works, also known as welfare, has a program specifically designed for teen parents called LEAP: Learning, Earning, And Parenting,” explained Chapelle. “And what that does is it reinforces that engagement with the education system.”
LEAP provides money for daycare while young parents remain in school. Until graduation, they’re provided with bus passes, stipends for school supplies, and, if they receive their diploma, they will earn a $500 scholarship.
Young fathers are also offered a 10 week program titled, “What a Difference a Dad Makes,” that helps those who are not involved in their child’s life. This program offers young dads information on the important role they play and often leads them to becoming more involved with their children.
“We’re known in the community for our business to partner. The school program, for instance, is partnered with the Durham board of education, prenatal is partnered with the health department, we also partnered with the hospital,” said Chapelle. “Where, if a young girl gives birth and is not connected with The Rose, we go in and do an intact right in the hospital.”
Rose of Durham has seen many success stories. They give counsellors and Chapelle the drive to further what they do. She has attended many weddings and gatherings with the parents she helped over the years.
“The staff are really supportive, especially Janet and her husband,” said Rose graduate Jen Lartz. “And because they were so supportive, they came to my wedding which was pretty awesome.”
Marisa Mei, executive director for Durham College’s Outreach Services, supports helping young mothers in post-secondary.
“Minimizing and reducing barriers that those parents may be experiencing can just eliminate those small components, allowing them to focus on the academics they need,” said Mei.
Many services provide support for young parents. Rose and Outreach are only a select few that demonstrate courses for success.