Kirstin, a single mother from British Columbia’s central interior, loves family and friend updates on Facebook. But she never thought she’d get news that would turn her life around.
The first time Kirstin heard about the Single Parent Employment Initiative (SPEI) was through a link that her sister sent her online. As an unemployed single parent on disability assistance, she knew she might qualify for the program, which provides tuition and other supports. At the time, she had few skills and was dealing with a hearing disability and mental health issues.
After connecting with her local WorkBC Employment Services Centre and being encouraged by her worker, Kirstin was provided with funding that covered her tuition, pre-requisites and books and started the health care assistant program.
“It was the hardest thing I have done intellectually so far in my life, but looking back one year later it gave me so much confidence,” Kirstin said.
Despite the challenge, she got straight A’s in all of her classes.
Kirstin is now employed as a health-care assistant and loves her job.
“I never imagined it would feel this great,” Kirstin said. “Before this program, I felt stuck in a rut with no way to get out.”
She credits her way out to SPEI. “Without this program, I couldn’t have gone to school.”
Not only has the program made a difference in her life, but it has also affected the lives of her two girls, ages six and nine.
“I think it is important for them to know the importance of a college education. I’m not available at all times anymore but it makes our time together that much sweeter,” Kirstin said.
One of the biggest changes for Kirstin is that she can now see a future in which she can afford to buy a house for her family. “Knowing that I am an educated single mother who can provide for my kids alone is a very wonderful feeling,” she said.
To other single parents who may come across her story on social media and be considering the SPEI program, Kirstin has a piece of advice.
“Jump on this chance!” she said.
She knows it could change their lives.
Launched in September 2015, SPEI provides eligible single parents on income or disability assistance with supports to assist them overcome barriers and get back into the workforce. To date, more than 4,455 single parents have become involved in SPEI and more than 860 have already found employment.