WCR PHOTO | CHRIS MILLER
Naomi Broadhead is child development coordinator at Rocky Forest Daycare and Patrica Garrett is executive director of Wings of Providence.
July 7, 2014
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
Women with children who have experienced family violence can now return to work, school or job training without the added challenge of securing outside daycare.
Since opening in 1987, Wings of Providence has provided safe and secure apartment living and counseling to more than 1,000 women and 2,300 children. Last year alone, Wings served 109 women and 242 children.
For 14 years, Wings – an acronym for Women In Need Growing Stronger – was the only second-stage shelter for women and their children in northern Alberta. Wings is now the largest and one of only five second-stage shelters serving the northern part of the province.
With Edmonton's lack of affordable accommodation, Wings decided to open the Home Next Door in June 2012.
The affordable housing complex in southeast Edmonton is for women with children who have experienced family violence. It provides a safe, secure home in a healthy, supportive community. Its aim is to provide continued healing and independence for women with children.
"This was the first of its kind in Edmonton because we saw a need for long-term affordable housing for these families. This is what women were telling us was a real barrier – no affordable housing," said Patricia Garrett, executive director for the Wings of Providence.
The Home Next Door features 30,000 square feet of space consisting of 29 fully furnished apartments. Security cameras monitor traffic in and around the building. There's a live-in caretaker for enhanced safety.
A 1986 study carried out by the Edmonton Women's Shelter concluded that a maximum stay of 21 days at a shelter was too short a time for families to break the cycle of violence.
Women stay at Wings for up to six months, with an average stay of four months. During that time, they participate in group and individual counselling sessions and focus on healing and rebuilding their lives.
The women pay rent, but at about 50 to 60 per cent below market price. It's more affordable than a typical rental property for the families who tend to have lower incomes.
"The other barrier we identified was safe, affordable daycare because it's very difficult for women to move forward with their lives, either with employment or school or upgrading their work skills, if they don't have childcare," said Garrett.
Therefore, Wings opened Rocky Forest Daycare in May. The on-site daycare aids in the women's return to work or school. This accessible childcare is essential to a woman transitioning to independence.
Money for the project was raised via an annual Mother's Day Tea, Kinettes Spring Fling, 50/50 sales at sporting events, a casino, an online auction, and individual donations.
"Our capital campaign is completed. We now have a mortgage of $600,000 that we will continue trying to decrease. At least it's manageable now, so we were able to move forward in opening up the Rocky Forest Daycare, which will be licensed for 33 children maximum," said Garrett.
The provision of quality daycare or out-of-school care in Wings' Home Next Door lessens transportation issues for the women and also eliminates the need to be placed on a long, alternate daycare waiting list.
The projected results of the Home Next Door include a decrease in poverty among the families and future generations.
The hope is that the families will go on to lead healthy, productive lives, free from violence. Wings has a high success rate, as about 75 per cent of clients who leave Wings build new lives free of family violence.
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