“I grew up in a home that relied on income assistance, and I wanted to be able to accomplish more.”
As a young single mother of two children, 26-year-old Sarah was anxious to get back to work after her son’s first birthday, but she knew it would be difficult to find a well-paying job with only customer service experience under her belt.
While relying on social assistance, Sarah spent countless hours looking and applying for various jobs. She realized that to qualify for a job that could support her family, she needed to go back to school and learn new skills. “I felt stuck,” explains Sarah.
Knowing that she couldn’t afford the cost of furthering her education on her own, Sarah turned to her local WorkBC Employment Services Centre for help. “I was really fortunate in my timing,” says Sarah. “The very helpful woman at WorkBC explained that a new program was being started that I could really benefit from. That program was the Single Parent Employment Initiative (SPEI).”
SPEI provided Sarah with financial support to train for a career as an administrative assistant and with child care support for her 5-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son.
Sarah excelled in her studies right away. Sarah received a ‘Student of the Month’ award, and also graduated a few weeks early, with honours.
“Both of my kids struggle with digestive system issues resulting in weakened immune systems, and a lot of tummy trouble. Although I did have to miss some class time due to hospital visits with my kids, I was able to reach all my educational goals,” beams Sarah.
“I want to set an example for my kids so they know the value of an education and work ethic,” says Sarah. “I’ve had an RESP account since my daughter was two-weeks-old. Now, I am not just telling her to go to college, I’m setting that example as a post-secondary graduate!”
One of the best parts of Sarah’s experience through the SPEI program was being hired even before she had completed school. “I was hired by a business with a good starting wage and great benefits, and they are extremely understanding of my children’s health needs,” Sarah says thankfully.
Sarah is thriving at work. After starting as a receptionist, she has now taken on accounting responsibilities and a multitude of other tasks.
Sarah wants other single parents to know that the SPEI program has changed her life. “Between the education opportunity and daycare coverage, and the other supports the program offers, it’s an opportunity for success. There is no downside to utilizing this program.”
The Single Parent Employment Initiative provides eligible single parents on income or disability assistance with supports including up to 12 months of funded training for in-demand jobs or paid work experience placement, transit costs to and from school, and child care costs during their training or work placement and in the first year of employment. Single parents can also remain on income assistance while attending a training program. Since its launch in September 2015, almost 4,340 single parents have become involved in SPEI and more than 815 have already found employment.
Photo of Sarah and her children: https://flic.kr/p/QFWxAx
Learn more about the Single Parent Employment Initiative: http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/home/featured-services/services/employment-initiative-for-single-parents