Celebrating Growth

By Lauren Oswalt, Lydia Place Parent Educator

Casey arrives home, unbuckles the kids and lifts them into the new freedom of their front yard. She takes a deep breath and shifts away from the long work day. This week, like most in the past year, she is balancing her full-time job that often requires overtime on top of being a single parent to her two lovely daughters, Erin and Macy. As we make our way inside to begin our visit, Casey brings her focus to her children and reflects on the events of the past week, most importantly, an exciting and special outing to the zoo. Casey turns to her youngest, Erin, who is two and a half, “Do you remember what animals we saw this weekend? A giraffe?” Erin’s response is written all over her face in the joy of that memory, as she wiggles with excitement, “YEAH!!!”

Before their most current family home, Casey and her two daughters struggled to find housing, each night looked a little different. They spent a few months living in a transitional shelter, but her goal was to find her own housing. Before long, she and her two daughters moved a bit out of town, to a space they could call home. Casey is constantly setting goals for herself, striving to improve in parenting, in her personal health, and in her work. When she started the Parents as Teachers program at Lydia Place, Casey’s focus was to learn how to enjoy playing with her children. She wanted to work on building strong relationships with her girls, and providing them with a kind of love and support that she didn’t have as a kid. Today, Casey’s parenting goals reflect the age of her children and their development. With Erin, a high energy and fiercely independent toddler and Macy an attentive, strong willed, creative kindergartner – Mom is always on her toes.

Casey recently experienced the “benefits ledge”. She received a notice that due to her increased income in November (one of those months she worked overtime to meet the demand of her company) she would no longer be eligible for childcare benefits. With the high cost of childcare, they wouldn’t be able to afford this cost, meaning Erin, wouldn’t be able to attend the daycare. In order to take care of her daughter without daycare, Casey might have to quit a job she has worked hard in for almost two years, this would force her back into unemployment. As many clients at Lydia Place and throughout the community gain financial independence, they approach this ledge and while it’s possible to overcome, more often than not, it inhibits progress.

With an appeal in process, Casey has been able to keep Erin in daycare for the time being, but is uncertain what the future might look like. She continues to work diligently, to set goals, and to make the most of her resources. She continues with the PAT program, and shares gratitude for a set time to sit down with her girls, to do a new activity together, talk about her family and celebrate their growth.