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Partnership with Janeway Children’s Health and Rehabilitation Centre

Following a year of advocacy and collaboration, Choices for Youth (CFY) launched a bold new partnership with Dr. Anne Drover and the Janeway Children’s Health and Rehabilitation Centre aimed at reducing barriers to health services by providing wrap-around supports for young mothers and their children. This new program works jointly with the Downtown Health Collaborative and Women’s Health and Pediatric Care teams at the Janeway to support the healthy development of the infants and young children of mothers who are experiencing personal challenges.

The partnership was built on the vision that early interventions produce better outcomes for young people. Women’s Health has been seeing a significant population of women coming through their doors without prenatal care. Many of these women face hardships in other aspects of their lives, such as substance use, mental health struggles, and socioeconomic challenges. As a result, their children are not receiving appropriate follow-ups with health services. CFY and the Janeway are united in the belief that supporting these mothers in other aspects of their lives will increase the likelihood that they will consistently bring their children to essential appointments.

Jeannie Piercey, Momma Moments and Family & Natural Supports Program Coordinator

“It’s not rocket science – it’s the hierarchy of needs. When you really peel back the layers of what people need, they need kindness, compassion, and understanding, and then they need practical things. They need food, transportation, cell phones, prescriptions, a drug plan, birth control – all those things are barriers that they need to navigate.”

CFY’s Momma Moments and Family and Natural Supports teams apply an intensive approach to providing these families what they need to allow them to be seen consistently by the Janeway. They provide health interventions, make formal referrals to ensure continuation of support, and help these mothers with legal challenges, counselling, and parenting needs, as well as support with basic needs, including access to baby items, phones, usage minutes, and more.

Dr. Anne Drover, Division Chief, Newborn Care, Janeway Children’s and Rehabilitation Centre and Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Faculty of Medicine, Memorial University of Newfoundland

“Working with Choices for Youth’s Momma Moments program has been a game changer for our vulnerable families. I have been frustrated for years with the inability to make significant changes in the trajectory of the lives of these moms and babies. Moms with substance use face such incredible barriers and stigma and they are often overwhelmed by the worries of a new baby compounded with mental health challenges, possibly housing instability, lack of support, and access to health care. The research clearly shows that wrap-around programs that help a new parent access safe housing, help with substance use, and teach and mentor positive parenting techniques, can significantly impact the ability of that mother to successfully parent her child and have positive outcomes. Momma Moments is doing that for the families of Newfoundland and Labrador, and I feel so privileged to be working with such an incredible team.”

This program is currently in its pilot stage and is supporting six young mothers, aged 16-29, over a period of 16 weeks. Staff are working with families, community partners, and healthcare professionals to support parents who have had no previous prenatal care, are struggling with complex mental health and substance use challenges, encountering difficulty in housing stability, or are involved with the Department of Children, Seniors, and Social Development. These supports are particularly impactful for children living in government care who have trouble accessing consistent services due to their circumstances and whose mothers historically face stigma and judgement when accessing services.

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