Mom’s House provides a unique family support system of basic needs, including FREE state licensed childcare to low-income, single parents while they are completing their education and becoming independent members of society.
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Removing barriers to education and employment for low-income, single parents
Mom’s House is a unique family support system of basic needs, including free state-licensed childcare, to single, low-income parents while they are completing their full-time education and becoming independent members of society.
Assessment of Need
For single parents who rely on public assistance, college and other degree classes do not count as “work” in most states, so many of those who return to school lose access to benefits like childcare vouchers and cash assistance. Earning a college degree or technical training is typically the best route to a higher-paying career, but many single parents find it very difficult to squeeze in classes with a schedule already packed with work and childcare. There is also very limited on-campus support for student parents. These student parents rarely have time to attend on-campus study sessions, let alone extracurricular activities. Day-to-day responsibilities remain overwhelming and balancing everything can be very challenging. By providing free childcare, Mom’s House eliminates a major barrier for a single parent returning to school.
Mom’s House has operated in Phoenixville since 1987. In July of 2012 Mom’s House moved to a larger classroom facility. This move allowed us to accept almost double the number of children and serve many more single parents. As a result of this move, our operating expenses increased by 30%. During our 2019-2020 school year we are currently serving 13 clients.
Mom’s House is part of a corporate Mom’s House located in Johnstown, PA and comprised of 7 locations. Each Mom’s House operates independently and is responsible for their individual funding. Mom’s House is a state-licensed childcare and preschool facility and is also a Keystone Stars Participant. In December of 2015 Mom’s House received our Star 2 designation which indicates our voluntary dedication to excellence. We anticipate receiving our Star 3 designation in early 2020. Non-discrimination policies are in place for staff and clients.
Although there is no charge for our childcare or support services, our clients do have responsibilities to the program. They must maintain passing grades in all courses (High School, College, GED, trade school), provide 2 hours of weekly service to Mom’s House (cleaning, office work etc.) and participate in all fundraisers. In addition, our clients are required to attend monthly seminars on a variety of relevant topics such as parenting, legal aid, cooking, and resume writing. Seminars are designed to meet the current needs of our clients and address relevant concerns in their lives.
Mom’s House provides a quiet study room, with computer and internet use, for our clients to utilize while we care for their children. We also provide assistance in the form of material donations (diapers, clothing) and gift cards for supplies and gas expenses. When needed, we will arrange for tutoring. Mom’s House also has a Scholarship Program funded by the family of a late volunteer. Children are provided with breakfast, lunch, diapers and all supplies needed in a small, caring pre-school environment with very low student/teacher ratios.
Our goal at Mom’s House is to support our clients in whatever way needed so that they remain in school and complete their education. This will better enable them to obtain gainful employment to support their young families without the need for welfare. Our clients have varying levels of family support in their daily activities so the Mom’s House staff will often be the primary source of help and encouragement in their educational pursuits.
Mom’s House rents space in First Presbyterian Church and we are licensed to serve 18 children. First Presbyterian serves as a WIC office four times per month and houses very active service programs. These programs will allow us to expand the exposure of Mom’s House services within the community and access various community resources to assist our clients with referrals when needed.
In the Summer of 2013, we offered our first summer program. After polling our clients, it was clear that our childcare services were needed so that our clients could pursue year-round schooling or work to pay for the Fall semester. We repeated our successful summer program in the summers of 2014 through 2019 at a cost of approximately $30,000 per year. It is expected that our summer program will continue each year as finances permit.
Mom’s House operates a unique “Client Emergency Needs Grant” program. With specific written guidelines and procedures in place, this program can provide financial assistance to our clients in emergency need situations such as medical needs, housing needs, tuition assistance, etc. As our primary goal at Mom’s House is to have our clients complete their education, emergency financial assistance is often a critical component of the support we provide.
The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy recently released the startling statistic “less than half of teen mothers graduate from high school and only 2% earn a college degree by age 30”.
The following is an excerpt from the National Conference of State Legislatures:
Thirty percent of all teenage girls who drop out of school cite pregnancy and parenthood as key reasons. Rates among Hispanic (36 percent) and African American (38 percent) girls are higher. Educational achievement affects the lifetime income of teen mothers: two-thirds of families started by teens are poor, and nearly one in four will depend on welfare within three years of a child’s birth. Many children will not escape this cycle of poverty. Only about two-thirds of children born to teen mothers earn a high school diploma, compared to 81 percent of their peers with older parents.
The Numbers Don’t Add Up to Success
- Only 40 percent of teen mothers finish high school. Fewer than 2 percent finish college by age 30.
- Young women who give birth while attending a community college are 65 percent less likely to complete their degree than women who do not have children during that time.
- Children of teen mothers perform worse on many measures of school readiness, are 50 percent more likely to repeat a grade, and are more likely than children born to older mothers to drop out of high school.
Plans for Future Growth
Mom’s House is currently in a year-to-year lease with First Presbyterian Church which provides us with flexibility in our location. Because demand for our services routinely exceeds our physical capacity, there is a strong possibility that we will look to expand our physical space once more. Expansion in this building is not possible at this time, so any expansion would involve moving to a larger childcare facility. Mom’s House has grown so dramatically (almost doubling our operating budget) over the past 5 years that we need to ensure that we approach any future expansion in a fiscally responsible manner. Due to state regulations and licensing, any expansion will involve adding staff and increasing facility expenses, food and program supplies. We would carefully consider all additional expenses to ensure that a potential expansion would be financially sustainable. Mom’s House has not incurred a budget deficit in the past 10 years, with the exception of 2013 when we moved to a larger facility and incurred numerous “one-time” and moving expenses. We are intentionally building our reserves (currently 8 months of operating expenses) to not only provide fiscal responsibility in the event of a market turn but also to have funds available for an expansion in the future.
While we do not have any formal partnerships, Mom’s House continues to collaborate with various Phoenixville non-profits and community groups to both broaden awareness of our programs and prevent duplication of services. Our location within First Presbyterian allows us to work with several of their ongoing missions (such as People to People). In addition, we continue to refer clients to PACS, the Clinic, Phoenixville Health Care Access, Wings for Success and other area non-profits.
Evaluation During our 2020-2021 school year, 100% of our clients remained in school and/or graduated from their educational program. If a client leaves the program, we provide an exit interview to determine how we could have better met the needs of that client. We have found that the great majority of clients who leave our program do so due to personal situations, not deficiencies in our program. Mom’s House currently has a past client on our board and she can lend a firsthand knowledge of our programs and wonderful insight as to how we can continue to improve and adapt our program to accommodate our clients.
“Mom’s House has helped me to achieve my lifelong dream of obtaining a college degree. When I first had my daughters, I did not have the resources to allow me to continue college and I dropped out. Now, with my youngest child, because of Mom’s House making childcare accessible and affordable for the single mom, I was able to go back to school and achieve my RN, BSN. If Mom’s House had many resources to help me including money for gas, presents for Christmas, help getting scholarships, and so much more. My son is with excellent teachers and caregivers who genuinely love my child and help him to get structure and learning in a playful environment. I can’t express how thankful I am to Mom’s House and all the wonderful staff and volunteers there who donate their time and energy to making this Child Care a safe haven for single mothers who want to further their education.”