The more things change…
A lot has changed at Saint Louise House over the last 20 years. We’ve grown from serving five families in rented apartments to serving 42 families in two agency-owned apartment complexes. We’ve increased the amount of time families can participate in our program from 18 months to four years so that families have the time and the stability they need to resolve legal issues, address mental and physical health challenges, and increase their earning potential. We’ve limited rent in the first year to $50 a month so that families have the opportunity to enroll in education or save for the future. We’ve expanded programming to include parent coaching, activities supporting social and emotional learning in children, and individualized case management for teens. In addition to providing families furniture and housewares when they move into our program, we now provide them with a laptop.
The more they stay the same…
What hasn’t changed is our success rate. Every year, at least 90% of Saint Louise House families increase self-sufficiency and maintain stability at Saint Louise House or on exit.
This success rate is due to our “secret sauce” – the highly individualized services we offer in addition to stable housing.
Onsite social workers – more accurately called “empowerment partners” – work one-on-one with each mother to help her develop and complete a comprehensive, personalized plan for life beyond Saint Louise House. The plan uses short- and long-term goals and focuses on each woman’s strengths, resources and abilities. Empowerment partners walk with each family every step of the way, helping them achieve their goals by supporting them in accessing life skills training, counseling, financial literacy and parenting coaching, employment and education services, and encouragement.
“In the 18 months I spent at Saint Louise House, I worked through my divorce, found employment for myself and daycare for my son,” says Ashley*. “One case manager helped me find the job I have now; another was there for me for all of the legal proceedings that accompanied my divorce. They both offered me so much support, assistance and advice. I do not think I would have made it through without them.”
Over time, mothers navigate from a place of despair to one of financial independence and health. By the time a mother “graduates” and moves out of Saint Louise House, she has developed the tools to succeed and overcome life obstacles.
“The day I was accepted at Saint Louise House was the start of a new life for me and my kids,” said Maria*, who, with her daughter, went on to attend college, secure a full-time job and develop a knowledge of resources. “The program opened a lot of opportunities. I had a safe place to call home, a team of great case workers that helped with our needs and my growth. I gained self-confidence, motivation and independence.”
The “secret sauce” isn’t just for our mothers; children also thrive in a safe and supportive environment without the stress of searching for their next meal or worrying about where they will sleep that night.
Saint Louise House provides social and emotional learning groups at each age level, tutoring, group activities and support for participation in extracurricular activities. Education and health outcomes for children improve as their mothers receive support advocating for their children’s educational and health needs in and out of school.
“Before moving into Saint Louise House, I wasn’t sure where I would end up in life,” says Janet*, age 17. “Now I have hope that I will be successful not only by the standards of society, but also by my own. I just finished high school and will be going to college for a double major in linguistics and law. My younger brother and sister are able to live young hopeful lives without having to look over their shoulders.”
*Names changed to protect the privacy of families