Struggling Mother Finds Parenting Support Thanks to New Choices Program

Six mothers with children

In the past, motherhood was challenging for Hillary. She struggled with addiction and, as a result, lost custody of her four older children. This painful experience inspired her to get sober and take measures to ensure this would not happen again.

Hillary first heard of The Salvation Army’s New Choices program, which supports women with substance use issues who are pregnant or mothering children, while she was in addiction recovery. Initially, she didn’t think much of it; however, she became pregnant again, which made her reconsider.

“After I got off of drugs, I reached out to them for help with my unborn baby,” Hillary shared. She joined the program when she was five months pregnant and found it so helpful that three years later, she remains enrolled in it.

“After I got off of drugs, I reached out to them for help with my unborn baby.”

“The program is absolutely amazing. They give you support, like coping mechanisms and strategies on how to maintain sobriety,” Hillary adds.

The New Choices program is offered by The Salvation Army in Hamilton. This initiative offers addiction treatment services and additional services for other areas of parenting.

“We provide addiction counselling, parenting education and women’s health education. We also assist with finding housing, employment, continuing education, referrals, and advocacy services,” Program Manager Kristin Baughan, explains.

Flexible Sessions

Currently, the program serves approximately 150 clients annually and provides both in-person sessions and an outreach program. The outreach sessions offer flexibility to mothers who may not be able to attend in person. Hillary is currently participating in the outreach program to accommodate her work schedule.

“They can either go to your home or you can meet them out in the community, whatever works easier for you. They are very flexible,” Hillary says.

During her maternity leave, Hillary experienced the in-person sessions, which she also enjoyed.

“In person, you meet other mothers and  can talk, share your experiences and listen to theirs. Sometimes what they have to say helps you, and sometimes what you have to say helps them.”

Support is Always Available

Hillary has two children involved in the program. A daughter and son aged two and one. She meets with the program’s Infant Parent Specialist every month who checks if Hillary and her children are doing well and offers additional support if needed.

“They’re caring and supportive, but they’re also able to see you frequently enough to be able to vouch for you.”

Recently, the specialist referred Hillary’s son to a speech therapist for developmental assistance.

Although Hillary has been sober for years, she still has access to an addiction counsellor in case she ever feels like she is going to relapse or is looking for guidance.

“The staff are good advocates to have on your side. They’re caring and supportive, but they’re also able to see you frequently enough to be able to vouch for you. They are a tremendous help,” Hillary says.

Looking Ahead

Thanks to the lessons she has learned through the program, Hillary feels that once she phases out of it, she will be ready to face whatever comes her way.

“I think they’ve given me the guidance that I need to be a strong, independent person.t is absolutely a great program to join. There is no judgment. Everybody is there for the same reason,” Hillary adds.

By Juan Romero