In Youth Service, Inc. Success Stories, we aim to recognize clients who have overcome their hardships to find success through our programming. In this post, we are highlighting our Parenting program. This program is a prevention support service available to any caregivers in the City of Philadelphia. The program meets in cycles of 12, two-hour sessions. The interactive curriculum focuses on: improving parents’ ability to identify, express, process and manage feelings; increasing parents’ understanding of child development; increasing parents’ understanding of the varied approaches to positive parenting including increased knowledge of nurturing and responsive parenting interactions. The groups also support parents in understanding and supporting their child’s educational needs. For more information please contact Erica Makowski, 215-848-6200 x 1012.

A 40-year-old single mother was referred to YSI’s parenting group and it took a year before she started attending regularly. In the beginning, she would attend one or 2 groups meetings within the 12-week parenting cycle. Without any communication, she would stop attending. The YSI parenting group facilitator would see her in the community at other times and would encourage her to attend group. Other group members would also encourage her to return to meetings. Eventually, she chose to begin attending group again.

After attending meetings regularly for a few weeks, she began to feel comfortable sharing some of the challenges she felt as a single mother. In one meeting, she shared that she had 5 daughters although only one of them was currently in her care and the rest were placed with a family member. YSI’s group facilitator allowed the group member to feel safe sharing her history with drugs and alcohol as well as other traumatic experiences in her life. Being a part of the group allowed the mother to address the relationship she had with her own mother and how it impacted the relationship she had with her daughters. She expressed a lot of negative feelings towards her family members due to her daughters being removed from her care and going to live with them.

Being a part of the parenting group provided her the tools and support needed to accept responsibility and see the role she played when her other daughters were removed from her care. The group also allowed her to start creating nurturing interactions with the daughter that she currently has in her care as well as her older children. Through tools shared in the parenting group, she was able to address co-parenting, forgiveness, spirituality, sobriety and nurturing oneself. She also started bringing other mothers to attend the group as what she described as “a way to pay it forward” after seeing the benefits of the group in her own life.

She has been able to obtain permanent housing and she still tries to make an effort to attend group meetings. YSI’s facilitators work encourage and empower group members to use their voices and nurture themselves first to be the best women and mothers that they have the potential to be.