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YPSN's story...

By petra - Posted on 18 April 2012

How did Young Parents Support Network come to be?


Here's how it happened...


Early days

Young Parents Support Network was started in 1994 by a group of teen mums and public health nurses to create an organization to support young parents. The original name of Young Parents Support Network was 'Challenges of Parenting Effectively' (COPE), also called 'COPE with Connections', which was changed in 2000 to Young Parents Support Network.

 YPSN has always had a young parent board of directors, except in the very early days when public health nurses and other professional people served on the board to get things started.

 In 1999, Rosemary Mann joined the staff team as Administrator at a difficult time in the organization. She created the stability and structure which got the organization back on track. Rosemary’s job title was changed to Executive Director in 2006 to more accurately reflect her role. Amy Gilchrist joined the team as Program Coordinator from 1999 until 2000. In 2001, young parent board member and volunteer advocate, Mike Mendria joined the staff team in the newly created position of Advocate, first as a volunteer and then as a staff person.


Some people you may know...

In 2003, Petra Chambers-Sinclair joined the organization as Respite Care Project Coordinator, bringing the staff team to three part-time members for the first time. Mike left the Advocate position in 2004, and was replaced by a few short-term team members. The Advocate position was revisioned by the board and staff in 2006 and the job title changed to Family Support Worker. In 2007, Jacquelin Green joined the organization as Family Support Worker. In 2008, Margo d’Archangelo joined YPSN as a respite care provider. In 2009, Rosemary left; Petra took over the role of Executive Director, Margo took over Petra’s role as Program Coordinator, and Jacquelin remained as Group Facilitator and Family Support Worker.

 In 2007, Dr. Amy Gilchrist, having completed her Naturopathic Physician training, initiated the Family Naturopathic Clinic partnership with YPSN. Since then, the partnership has been providing Naturopathic Medicine Services to young parents free of charge.

In 2009, the organization moved to its present location at 2541 Empire Street. Originally this location was a mini-hub of non-profit organizations with partners Parent Support Services and the Family Violence Project. The Family Violence Project lost funding and left later that year, and Parent Support Services moved out in 2011, and now we are the sole occupants of this location.

From 2009 to 2011, YPSN experienced a rapid period of growth, expanding from two small rooms downtown to a 14-room family centre; from three part-time staff with a team of casual respite care providers, to five full-time staff, 3 part-time staff and a team of casual child care providers and volunteers; with correspondingly large increases in the numbers of families served and depth of service offered. Savanna Bazuik-Peekeekoot, Robin Kiernan, Samantha Hosie, Kim Fagerlund, Roxy-Merl Jones, Sacha Sauve, Jill Pelly, Sara Santana, and Karen Whetung all joined the staff team during these years.

The respite care program came to an end during this time, despite the increase in funding and capacity, due to the challenge in finding funders who were interested in sustaining the program, and the ongoing challenge of high turnover in casual respite care staff.

In 2009, YPSN began providing Perinatal Support Services, starting with Prenatal Classes run by Sacha Sauve and Robin Kiernan. Soon, we were offering three sets of Prenatal classes per year, Perinatal Outreach services, and free doula care for births. Jacquelin became the Perinatal and Family Support Coordinator to support our growing team of front-line staff.


The present

In 2012, YPSN is as busy as it has ever been, offering Family Support, Parenting Education classes, a comprehensive Perinatal Program offering Prenatal Classes, Doula care & Perinatal Outreach, Drop-in groups, a Workout group, a truly transformative Future Planning Program, microloans, support groups such as our new Storytelling group. We are currently rnovating our location to improve our space for families, volunteers & staff & most importantly to increase the size of our group room to reduce waitlists for our programs.

Let's see what emerges next!