I never wanted to be on welfare.”
But Heidi had to turn to income assistance when her retail job of 12 years was eliminated while she was on maternity leave.
“Being in a position with no job to go back to after maternity left me in a bit of a predicament, as I am the sole caregiver for my daughter” Heidi says.
Still, Heidi was determined to make a new career, and build a better life for her and baby Aria. After researching the local job market, the Vancouver resident determined that she’d like to work in a medical office - but paying for tuition and daycare seemed impossible until she learned about the Single Parent Employment Initiative (SPEI).
The program covers up to one year of tuition or paid work experience, plus child care and transit costs for eligible single parents on assistance who want to upgrade their skills and get back into the workforce. Thanks to SPEI, Heidi is now enrolled in the Medical Office Assistant program at Vancouver Community College.
“It’s fascinating-I am so enjoying the program” Heidi says. “I feel so fortunate to have the opportunity to go back to school.”
Heidi is also grateful that SPEI is also covering childcare costs for Aria—“Daycare costs are insane in my neighbourhood”—and that those costs will be covered for up to one more year once Heidi finds employment.
“That extra year of child care will make a big difference” she says.
Heidi wants to share her story with other single parents on income or disability assistance.
“I know that a lot of single parents on assistance are embarrassed—there’s a stigma to being on welfare. But I say–get over it! Move on with your life.”
The self-starter says SPEI gives single moms and dads the supports they need to get off of assistance, find employment, and set an example for their children.
“Make a better life for you and your kids-you’re the only one who can do that, and it can be done” Heidi says. “It’s such a good feeling. Don’t be shy, SPEI can change your life, and your kids will look up to you.”
Read more stories of single parents getting support to build a better future for their family.
Learn more about the Single Parent Employment Initiative.