Strong Neighborhoods

Matthew Simpson is a community impact manager with United Way of Rock River Valley

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Parent support program builds up culture of achievement in neighborhoods

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Ashleigh Townsend, a young mother of four children, is just one of many families living in poverty who encounter several barriers on their path to provide for their family. Juggling between children activities, daycare, searching for a suitable job and home for her family and navigating support systems, Ashleigh felt overwhelmed and discouraged. Added to that discouragement, Ashleigh's children were demonstrating both low academic achievement and behavioral issues in school. She wanted a better life for her children but didn't know how to achieve that plan.

While attending a family night event at her children's school, Ashleigh connected with a case manager from Parenth.o.o.d Promise, a United Way Strong Neighborhoods program that encourages families to ensure their children graduate from high school. Together with the case manager, Ashleigh developed a set of goals to support her children's high school graduation plans. The case manager also navigated Ashleigh through housing, career and financial training, and behavioral health counseling services to stabilize her household.

As a result, Ashleigh and her family moved into better housing where her kids ride their bikes and play outside. She connected with teachers to develop a specialized education plan for her children and maintains her household with a limited income. With a renewed sense of determination, Ashleigh is now pursuing her nursing degree.

The Parenth.o.o.d Promise program, a collaboration between Ellis Elementary School (Rockford Public Schools), Youth Services Network and United Way, currently partners with 14 families as they work to ensure their children graduate from high school. Ultimately, the program helps children become successful in school and empowers parents, like Ashleigh, to build up a culture of achievement in their neighborhoods.

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