Before Kim came to PHI, she was struggling more than any 17-year-old should have to.
Her family had been evicted from their apartment, and Kim and her mother were not getting along. Kim’s mom was also struggling to raise her younger children. When the time came to move out, her mother’s plan no longer included Kim.
To add to her situation, Kim’s due date was only a couple of months away, the week of Christmas. She stopped attending school because her clothes no longer fit, and she could not afford maternity clothes.
Essentially, Kim was pregnant and alone.
A New Home
That November, a spot opened up in the Project Home. Within days Kim was settled in and enrolled in prenatal education classes. She was outfitted with maternity school uniforms, and attended school regularly. She began researching CNA classes for post-graduation, and soaked in the wisdom of our kind and caring staff. Additionally, our case manager helped connect Kim with social service assistance so that she could apply for low-income independent housing. Kim was also matched with a mentor who threw her a baby shower and helped her prepare for delivery.
On a chilly Sunday night in December, we picked Kim and her sweet little girl up from the hospital. Kim’s was the first baby born in our care, and she was perfectly healthy.
Before Kim came to us she wondered who would pick her up from the hospital, and where she and her daughter would go. When we walked into the Project Home with her baby, the PHI team and other residents greeted her with “welcome home” signs and balloons. They even cooked her favorite meal—steak and mashed potatoes—for dinner. The joy and warmth in the house was very palpable!
A New Chapter
Kim moved out a few months after her daughter was born, when her godmother had a safe and stable place for the family of two to live. Kim stayed with her godmother until her low-income housing became available.
Kim started working full-time at JCPenny, and attended her final GED classes at night. Kim passed her GED with an honors score and started taking CNA classes.
Fostering A Safety Network
Although we are so proud of her success in our program and in her independent life, Kim has still needed a support system that extends beyond her 18th birthday.
In January, Kim missed a CCDF (child care development fund) appointment because of a work conflict, and lost her CCDF. Terrified of losing her job, she called PHI, and our case manager helped her navigate the CCDF process. We were able to help Kim pay for two weeks of childcare until she had funding again.
We structure our alumni program to meet the unique needs of our graduates who need our support after moving out on their own. Kim’s challenges have been universal to our population of teens. We have found that their greatest struggles are in balancing their bills and their minimum wage paychecks, as well as saving for unexpected expenses while trying to work through school and raise their children.
PHI strives to provide a strong foundation for success, but we feel strongly that the aftercare model is a critical element to keeping our residents on the path to long-term success for themselves and their children.
Because Project Home was such a true home to Kim, she makes an effort to keep in touch; it’s not uncommon for her to visit the house, and she emails regularly. In a recent conversation she shared:
“I'm so proud of my accomplishments so far and those to come … I've been using a lot of the strategies of independence you all have taught me and I'm excelling very well. You know I have to keep you all updated on my life, since you play a huge part.”
Kim is on track to finish her CNA training in January.