This Father’s Day will be a special one for Donald M.
For the first time in several years, he’ll enjoy the occasion as a single father with a full-time, well-paying job in B.C.’s booming construction industry and a bright future ahead for him and his children, Kaia and Arrow. Just a few years ago, Don, a self-employed construction tradesman, faced a tough choice.
“For reasons beyond my control, my children Kaia and Arrow were placed in foster care shortly after birth. After Arrow was born, I was separated from their mother and we divorced after a few months. Suddenly, I found myself a single father with two children in foster care.”
Donald says he could either leave them in foster care and keep working full time—or go on social assistance and take the legal steps necessary to have them returned.
“I chose the latter, of course,” he says. “I kept working part-time roofing, landscaping and other pick-up work, but the strain of caring for my children prevented me from gaining full-time employment. I wanted to be working full time, but the cost of daycare made it too difficult.”
Still, he didn’t like the idea of not working.
“I needed a leg-up to enter the workforce again.”
So he decided to do something about it. Donald visited the Whalley WorkBC Employment Services Centre to explore different options to gain secure, full-time employment. His employment counsellor set up Donald with funding for child care so he could focus on his job-search options. His counsellor also told him about the Single Parent Employment Initiative.
“It was perfect for me.”
The program offers up to one year of tuition or paid work placement for single parents receiving income or disability assistance, and also covers child care and transit costs. Additionally, child care costs are covered for up to one year after a participant finds employment.
“It’s a very positive program-very helpful,” Donald says.
He’s now found full-time employment renovating housing complexes for a firm in Surrey, and is making a good wage doing what he loves. SPEI is covering half of his salary through a wage subsidy—and child care for Kaia and Arrow.
“Without that subsidy, and the child-care funding, I don’t think this would have happened,” Don says. “For people like me who want to work, this program pays off. It facilitates single parents who want to get back into the work force.”
Donald is one of many who are benefitting from the Single Parent Employment Initiative, including nearly 300 single fathers.
“The financial buffer this program offers for motivated parents who want to work will enable them to become productive again in the workforce to the point the help is no longer needed as the parent becomes self-reliant again as I am.”
Read more stories of single parents getting support to build a better future for their family.
Learn more about the Single Parent Employment Initiative.