Young parents prep for 9-to-5

SEE VIDEO http://www.ottawasun.com/news/ottawa/2010/11/04/15970171.html#/news/ottawa/2010/11/04/pf-15971071.html

Twenty-one-year old Amanda is used to reading stories to her daughters, Annabella, 4, and Kendra, 1.

But now she’s ready to re-enter the workforce and have adult conversation.

“It’s very, very exciting to anticipate my first paycheque that comes with my name on it,” she said.

The Young Parent Employment Program is being launched this week. A joint initiative with the Youth Services Bureau and the Youville Centre, it’s designed to get teenage parents off of social assistance.

“It’s better for them, better for their children, and it’s better for the community as a whole,” said Alex Munter, the bureau’s executive director.

With $183,000 in funding from the federal government, participants will get 16 weeks of work experience where they will earn minimum wage, $10.25 an hour.

“This is a real linkage to the world of work and it’s very meaningful for them and I think it opens options for them and makes it easier to provide the better life that they’re looking for, for themselves and their child,” said Judi Sarginson, executive director at the Youville Centre.

Most of the participants are on social assistance.

Amanda isn’t. She recently got married and her husband is the sole breadwinner — until now.

“With a job that I would get on my own without education or support, we couldn’t financially support ourselves and send our children both to daycare,” Amanda said.

But with this program, they’ll have help with transportation, clothing, and child care. And that has Amanda feeling optimistic.

“Hopefully in the end I’ll end up with a career out of it, as opposed to a minimum-wage job at a McDonald’s or Tim Horton’s,” she said.

Munter said the potential employers are major players in retail and hospitality, while others have large offices.

There are 12 girls enrolled in the program, and that number is expected to grow.

Amanda’s goal is to be an image consultant, and she hopes to get hired permanently, so it can lead to that second job.

kelly.roche@sunmedia.ca

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