Released on May 12, 2014A new supported living home for at-risk single mothers was opened today at 600 Queen Street in Saskatoon. This new home, Sweet Dreams, was made possible by a funding model that is the first of its kind in Canada. The funding model, which is called a Social Impact Bond, is between the Government of Saskatchewan, Conexus Credit Union, Wally and Colleen Mah, and EGADZ.
“This new home is a wonderful example of what can be achieved when we work together and explore unique solutions to support vulnerable children and families,” Social Services Minister June Draude said. “Keeping families together is the goal of this project, and we are proud to work with our partners to make this goal a reality.”
Under Social Impact Bonds, government sets a specific social outcome it wants achieved, acquires the money to achieve that social outcome from private investors, and promises to pay the investors a pre-arranged sum if, and only if, the service provider achieves the outcome after a specific period of time.
In this Sweet Dreams project, the service provider is EGADZ’s Saskatoon Downtown Youth Centre. EGADZ will provide single mothers with children under the age of eight who are at risk of requiring services from Child and Family Services with affordable housing and support while the mothers complete their education, secure employment, or participate in pre-employment activities such as life skills training and parenting classes. The ultimate goal of this program is to help these families transition back into the community.
Sweet Dreams is based on a multi-ministry, long-term strategy where the Ministries of Social Services, Health and Education are working together with EGADZ to support single mothers to reach their full potential and prevent their children from entering the foster care system. The project aligns with the objectives of the Saskatchewan Child and Family Agenda.
Under the Social Impact Bond agreement, EGADZ will receive $1 million from private investors – Conexus Credit Union, and Wally and Colleen Mah – to deliver the program and achieve the desired social outcome, which is to keep children out of foster care.
“Sweet Dreams empowers families to enhance their quality of life and improve their social situations,” Conexus Credit Union CEO Eric Dillon said. “This unique and innovative community initiative aligns perfectly to the key priority areas of our Community Investment Program. We care about the well-being of our communities. It’s projects like Sweet Dreams that allow us to give back to the community of Saskatoon.”
“We are happy to be partnered with EGADZ to assist the most vulnerable members of our community – our children,” Wally Mah said.
“This program gives at-risk mothers and children a chance at a better life and will ultimately support the entire fabric of our community,” Colleen Mah added.
The Sweet Dreams project is expected to result in savings to the Government of Saskatchewan of between $540,000 and $1.5 million over five years. These savings are based on the cost of children in care of the minister of Social Services. This figure does not include any other potential savings related to health, criminal justice and any future social assistance.
The home for the Sweet Dreams project has also received funding from the Government of Canada’s Homelessness Partnering Strategy ($320,000), the City of Saskatoon ($140,000), and other private donors ($75,000).
“Every child deserves to live in a safe and secure environment and Sweet Dreams provides that,” Saskatoon Mayor Donald Atchison said. “We are a city that has led the way in attainable housing solutions, and this unique co-operative venture with public and private partners is another example of how working together we can give every child and every family an opportunity to thrive and succeed.”
Sweet Dreams is expected to house between eight and 11 adults and eight to 15 children, depending on the composition of the participating families. Mothers and their children will participate in the program for a minimum of two months to a maximum of two years, depending on the level of support required.
“As the name implies, every mother will have a safe environment in which to kiss their child good night and tell them to have Sweet Dreams,” EGADZ A/Executive Director Don Meikle said. “This home will utilize full community support to enhance services and support and allow mothers and children the advantage of full citizenship in our province.”
Sweet Dreams will support mothers in their education and entry into the workforce for meaningful, long-term employment, thereby securing a better quality of life for their families, which is a vision under the Saskatchewan Plan for Growth.
To find out more about EGADZ and its programs, please visit http://www.egadz.ca. To learn more about Conexus Credit Union, please visit https://www.conexus.ca.
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