Single moms' course folds
Federal funding gone for skills upgrading

by Jennifer Pritchett
Northern News Services

NNSL (NOV 29/96) - Thanks to a program for single mothers, Leigh Latham is attending college and getting her life back on track.

But Latham, 25 and a mother of two, is among the last group of single mothers to receive job and life skills training with the YWCA program, Focus. Federal funding for the course has run out, forcing it to fold.

"This program has made me feel great," she said. "What I've learned at this program has given me the confidence to go to college. With this knowledge, I hope to get into some kind of occupation."

Since March, 20 women ages 17 to 30 have gone through the program -- 10 in each of the two 15-week sessions held.

Students in the course can receive a GED (high school equivalency diploma) and CPR certificate. The women attend workshops in nutrition and parenting.

They are also trained in resume writing, interviewing skills, and computer skills. They go on a two-week work term with a city employer.

"I have a reason to get up in the morning and face my day," said Dawn McDermott, 21, who just finished the program.

Jodi Woollam, the project's co-ordinator, said the course gave the women a springboard into other opportunities to make them more independent.

"I think it worked so well because it was, to the best of my knowledge, the first program for single mothers in Yellowknife," she said. "I mean, there are a lot of programs for women, but this one was the first for single mothers."

Woollam said they had hoped the $150,000 in funding from the federal and territorial governments would be renewed.

An Investing in People initiative, the program will continue to receive funding from the territorial Department of Education to the tune of $15,000 a year.

But the federal government hasn't renewed its funding commitment and Woollam said they can't survive on what's left

"The hope was that once you've shown that a program is successful, the funding would be renewed," she said.

But there is little hope for that. After today, single moms will have to get together on their own for support. They won't be able to receive the training they have through Focus.

Woollam predicts many of Yellowknife's single moms will stay at home without a place to go for opportunities.