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How do we make a Difference?

By petra - Posted on 17 January 2013


Recently we asked for feedback from participants and other community members. What we do well, how we do it, how we could do things better, and what meaning our programs have for the people who participate in them.

We got a lot of excellent feedback, including some great critiques that we have already started to take action on.

Some things made us cry. Because this work is so important to us, and we don’t always know what the impact is. We just show up and try to do what is relevant, what is important, what is meaningful, each day. Finding out that it really does make a difference? It’s profound. This one made me cry: “I feel more confident for my children’s safety, not terrified anymore – changed my life completely; I’m not worried I’m going to hurt them and that I’m going to do the wrong thing.”

What Makes a Difference?

One question we asked was: What about YPSN has made a difference to you in your life?

Here’s some of what was said:

• The one-on-one support. Making goals, breaking them down and making things happen. Normalizing things that I could judge myself on as a parent. Just being there.

• I like Future Planning, I feel like it’s not too late to be who I want. There are other moms in the same spot as me.

• Future Planning saved my life, and I’m not saying that lightly, not as an expression. I would be dead. But I found Future Planning, and everyone at YPSN helped me get back on my feet. Now I want to save other lives!

• I feel like if I’m in crisis on a Friday afternoon, I still feel I know that YPSN is there, and I will survive till Monday, cause I know that I’ll be able to talk to someone then.

• Sitting with me through a meeting, slowing down a meeting, explaining a family plan, someone to debrief with. Someone to help follow through with the MCFD suggestions with – to actually do the work with.

• I think it’s helped me to increase my understanding the complexity. It’s a safe space for me to learn. The people are freaking awesome.

• If we ever need something: emotional support, clothes, baby stuff or whatever, I know I can call you guys!... But I also know that I am not FORCED to call you guys. You respect me if I say I’m doing ok.

• It has given me amazing volunteer experience working with children of all ages, and I have been able to connect and network with other volunteers studying social work...a big help! Met a lot of interesting people.

• Truly connecting with people. Learning what it’s like to feel hope, and trust, and loveable. Learning that I have value.

• I got to do my volunteer work for work service community justice there which was great because I could bring my kids and how was I supposed to do that without my kids? Now I can move on with my life. The staff was so great. Didn’t make me feel like a criminal, made me feel important.

• YPSN gave me a place to go for social time with other adults and I made some important connections with other participants and staff through the programming. I received help with things when I needed it and I learned so much from the groups, from staff and from fellow participants. I also met people who inspired me to apply to the School of Social Work at YPSN, where I got in and am now attending. I love it and it is a decision that I may not have come to as quickly as I did, if ever, if I had not spoken with staff and practicum students who had completed the program.

• Feeling accepted, feeling valued. I think that I feel that I know my truths, it’s just hard to feel like that they’re really ok – that I’m really ok, and at YPSN, it feels ok.

• Helped me discover what I want to do with my life – helped me find a way to give meaning, which was lacking before. Also, it’s the only place I’ve felt respected.

• Family support, for making me feel like I’m not doing everything wrong. Also, it’s spending time with someone positive, and who looks at me in a positive way.

• As a social work student, YPSN has shown me the importance of working with the whole family (for example having quality programs for both parents AND kids) and fostering an environment where staff are approachable and truly part of the community alongside other community members. I love how YPSN intentionally avoids the word client! I also really like how the board of directors are (or were) young parents ... truly client-led and client-centered (well, not client haha, community member led and centered) practice!

• The drop-in space is for me – the informal connecting, I find really valuable. Even the staff that runs it – it provides space for the unexpected. There’s a lot of meaningful interaction that happens; it’s accessible to people, whether or not they’re ready to commit to something.

• I feel more confident for my children’s safety, not terrified anymore – changed my life completely; I’m not worried I’m going to hurt them and that I’m going to do the wrong thing.

• I do not know of any other programs in Victoria such as this one. With the cut backs to public health visits to new families, the doula program, and family support worker program can help bridge that gap and recommend help where help is needed. The free prenatal classes YPSN has is useful for families who cannot afford classes, and they also provide bus fare to get to the classes!

• All the support workers – supporting me through things in my life. They talk me through a lot of things, I have received a lot of guidance, and Future Planning’s been a big one for me. Reminded me of who I am and where I want to go, reminded me how to reach my goals.


What could we do better?

And the critical feedback? It was great, too. And we’ve already bought a new vacuum (our old one was ridiculously dilapidated) so we can do a better job of keeping things more immaculate around here! And we’re coming up with a plan to make our entrance more welcoming.

We also asked: What could YPSN do better or different?

We heard:

• Offer more drop-in groups, more staff for family support.

• Engage other communities.

• I think you guys rock but aren’t really well known to young families for your awesome resources! (at least I had no clue for a while lol) so maybe trying to get out there a little bit more so young families know what you're all about?

• Collaborate more. Get more well-known in the community.

• More drop-in groups, or set hours that people are here.

• Having a kitchen, and provide family-life programs.

• Having staff in the office at set times – not a structured group, just drop-in times. Having to call first is a barrier, for sure.

• A kid & parent yoga group.

• Going from intensive support in Future Planning, to nothing (when your time is up, is way too hard.) There needs to be something to ease us off. It can’t just be over, and us expected to be cured and move on.

• An evening social get-together.

• Things for older kids to do.

• More grant money, more food.

• Maybe an after-school group for parents and kids to get help doing homework, or teaching homework.

• Segue programs: from participants to volunteers.

• I really don’t like the food. It’s not healthy. Whole grain breads, things without artificial sweeteners, nature’s best granola bars would be better.

• Become more known in the community!!!

• Regular times that someone will be in the office, no matter what.

• Make the entrance (the gate, a sign) more welcoming.

• Supervised access at YPSN. The atmosphere and the environment would make all the difference.

• Connect more with complimentary programs and organizations.

• YPSN should constantly strive to engage all (cultural/ economic/ gender/ orientation…) communities. Need to try harder!

• YPSN is doing wonderfully as is. An idea for future planning: how to do your taxes. There are lots of loopholes people don't know about!

• Workout group should be on-going, and drop-in.

• Keep a cleaner space!!!! Yuck.

• It’s so hectic with the strollers, having a better system would make a ton of difference.

• I think the gaps between each program and services is great it gives people time to decide if they want to go to more, I love everything about YPSN so I don't really think anything should change I like the programs, services, free child care so you can focus on the program, free bus tickets to get there and home plus free food. I just wish I lived closer.

• It would be awesome to see child minding staff communicate a bit more with volunteers to ensure there is no miscommunication or confusion during child minding sessions.

• I think YSPN could do a better job getting word out that it exists. Therefore serving more families who might need the help.

• More drop-in groups!!

• Have parenting or support groups specifically for parents who are involved with MCFD, that we’re not mandated to go to…. Talk about how to talk to social workers, instead of fighting with them.


~We love feedback! It’s the only way we can improve and refine our programs for young parent families. Don’t be shy: let us know!