When Martha's companion of 11 years left her and her three children, life seemed to come apart at the seams. Her older daughter began to act out and Martha could no longer afford the $50 a week for child care for her youngest daughter. Left to be the sole supporter, both emotionally and financially, Martha found it extremely difficult to carry on. She went to her neighborhood family support center seeking help for her daughter's behavioral problems. A counselor helped the child learn positive ways of channeling her anger and assisted the mother and daughter in their communication skills. A caseworker also helped Martha apply for a housing subsidy and a place for her youngest child at a city day care center.
Now Martha is current in her rent payments and has secured child care for her daughter. Her relationship with her older daughter has also improved. She will continue to need affordable day care and help with the rent until she is able to sufficiently support the family on her own. But with the financial burdens lightened, she is now able to give more of herself to her children.
When I came to the Family Support Center, I felt that I had nothing going for me. I was in the streets almost every day, with plenty of booze, drugs and violence. Our first baby died right after it was born because of my wife's drug abuse, so when she became pregnant again I was torn between being happy and confused. I was nervous about being responsible for someone so small and fragile-looking.
I started coming to the fathers' group meetings at the Center soon after my son was born. I was so proud of him and the group taught me that it was okay to show love. And when things didn't work out between me and my wife, the fathers' group helped me to see that I wasn't alone and supported my decision to keep my son.
My son is three now and he knows that he has a father who really cares about him and that's important. It is something I didn't have. We have our own place together and I have a good job now, but I still go to the fathers' group meetings every week to talk things over with other fathers and to give them the same support they showed me.
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