Room to Grow clients come from a wide variety of backgrounds. What they have in common, however, is they all want the best for their children, and for many, that often means a different childhood than they had themselves. The families in the program are all:
- Struggling with poverty and the stresses associated with it
- Faced with raising a child with limited resources
- Navigating the many imperfect systems related to government assistance
- In need of support, guidance, and material resources to ensure their children reach key developmental milestones during their critical first years
60% of the families we work with in New York and 58% in Boston are led by single mothers.
Of the families we serve, 58% in New York and 46% in Boston are Latino; 28% in New York and 37% in Boston are African-American; 8% in New York are African; 4% in New York and 12% in Boston are Caribbean; 4% in Boston are Caucasian; 2% in New York are Caucasian, mixed race or other; and 1% in Boston are of mixed race or other.
Regina came to Room to Grow overwhelmed and alone. The father of her baby was imprisoned early in her pregnancy and would miss the first five years of their child's life. Regina was surprised to be navigating parenthood as a single mother, and recognized that she needed help.
At Regina's first visit to Room to Grow, she was amazed at how much there was to learn. She soaked in information about safe sleeping habits, nutrition, the importance of early reading, and other parenting tips throughout her three years in the program. She was delighted to receive baby items she needed including sleep sacks to reduce the risk of SIDS, a tummy time mat for her infant's gross motor development, and a breast pump to support her goals of breastfeeding. She was also grateful for the opportunity to talk about parenting challenges with her social worker. In addition to the material goods and support, Room to Grow referred Regina to a weekly parenting support program in her neighborhood to help improve her confidence and reduce her feelings of isolation.
Today, Regina's daughter Eliza is almost 3 and is a bright and verbal child who loves music, her toy kitchen, and counting. She will start preschool in September at a local Head Start program which will enable Regina to return to work as a security guard. Regina is proud to continue her journey as a mother with grace, confidence and strength.
Where are They Now
Receiving a double stroller was a "lifesaving moment," recalls Olivia, a single mother of twins who was struggling to navigate public transportation with two infants.
When Olivia entered the program pregnant with twins, her relationship with their father was turbulent. She found herself unable to finish school or work, but had a deep desire to support herself and her babies. Room to Grow helped relieve financial strain by providing clothes, books, and gear for the twins, however, Olivia soon found that Room to Grow offered much more than just material resources. Visits to Room to Grow were therapeutic. She could talk to her social worker about life's challenges, and received information, guidance, and support in return.
Today, because of their mother's strength and determination, Justin and Jacob are 6 years old and thriving in kindergarten. They love school, sports and playing with their grandmother. Olivia is now certified in Early Childhood Education and is employed as a lead preschool teacher. She is in school part time working towards a masters degree in nonprofit management, and recently fulfilled a dream of buying her own home in Hyde Park.
Moving Towards Independence
Marie came to Room to Grow at the age of 17 shortly before her daughter Sara was born. Marie had been forced to leave her family’s home when she became pregnant, and was living in a foster care group home. As she moved through the foster care system she lost contact with her friends and siblings, and was without financial or emotional supports. Within a year of Sara’s birth, Marie faced an additional challenge: turning 18 and losing her eligibility to live in foster care. Without other options, Marie and Sara moved into a shelter for homeless families. Over the course of her time in the program, Room to Grow gave her information about public programs available to help her child, such as Food Stamps, and empowered her to apply for subsidized housing. When Sara was a year old, Marie received a child care voucher that enabled her to begin training as a nurse. Soon thereafter she secured a subsidized apartment and was able to leave the shelter system. With the basics of housing, food, and child care in place, and with clothing, toys, books and other supplies for Sara provided by Room to Grow, Marie could focus on other pressing issues. At Room to Grow, she was encouraged to take charge of her own health, having not had regular medical care since her pregnancy. She decided to feed her daughter only organic foods as a result of a conversation about nutrition and balanced eating. Today Marie is working as a home health aide and continuing her nursing studies. With Room to Grow’s support, Marie continues to develop the confidence and capacity to take care of herself and her daughter.
Names have been changed to maintain confidentiality.