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October 8, 2015
Stephanie knows all too well that life isn’t always easy, but she also knows that with the right supports in place, no hurdle is insurmountable. As a child, she was moved into the foster care system and experienced severe trauma. When Stephanie was 16, she became pregnant with her daughter, Ella.
Determined to not become another statistic, Stephanie knew how critical it was to graduate from high school. With support from the school district, and even though the cards were stacked against her – on average 60 percent of teen mothers don’t graduate from high school — she managed to pull through and graduate.
After high school, Stephanie was working full-time, but, without the support she’d received from the school, she found she was struggling with balancing work and raising Ella well. Stephanie tried to navigate the maze of community resources on her own, but that soon became overwhelming.
It was then that she found out about the Be Ready Early Childhood Navigator, Mandy, at the Matthews House Community Life Center. Be Ready Navigators are funded through United Way of Larimer County’s Smart Start for Kids Initiative. Be Ready is a community-wide collaborative effort working to ensure young children, like Ella, enter school ready to learn. They work to provide resources and parent education for families with young kids, while also making sure there are accessible early childhood learning opportunities, including story times and preschool. United Way’s Community Impact Partners who focus on Be Ready strategies and initiatives include Children’s Speech and Reading Center, CSU, Estes Park School District, Estes Valley Investment in Childhood Success, Fort Collins Read Aloud, Poudre River Library District, Poudre School District, Teaching Tree, The Family Center, The Matthews House, Thompson School District, and Thompson Valley Preschool.
Mandy worked with Stephanie to pinpoint some of her biggest barriers. Together, they identified that one of Stephanie’s biggest struggles was finding affordable childcare. Knowing this, Mandy was able to help Stephanie fill out an application for the childcare subsidy CCAP and helped her look for a high quality childcare location that fit her needs.
Mandy also worked with Stephanie to set some parenting goals and connected her to a local parenting group, so that Stephanie could find support continue on the path of becoming the best parent possible for her little girl.
Despite all the challenges, Stephanie is confident that she is headed in the right direction. Ella is a happy little kid and is thriving in a high quality childcare setting, while Stephanie is able to concentrate on creating a successful future for her family.
Stephanie calls Mandy every month or so to ask advice and check in about goals that she had set. Mandy also provides continued support to Stephanie, including the time she helped her keep her housing vouchers after a move. Stephanie is now looking in to possibly going to school for a bachelors degree, knowing that increasing her earning potential will be another step to a brighter future for her family.
Thanks to your support of United Way’s Community Impact Partners, Smart Start for Kids, WomenGive and the Child Care Tax Credit, more kids are entering school ready to learn, which is the first step on the track to graduation, and ultimately building a brighter future.
Copyright 2015 United Way of Larimer County