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September 28, 1998
(Human Resources and Employment)

Program helps single parents prepare for employment

Julie Bettney, Minister of Human Resources and Employment, together with the Single Parent Association of Newfoundland (SPAN), held a reception today for participants of the Single Parent Employment Support Program (SESP).

The pilot program, which was announced in the 1998 provincial budget, is designed to help single parents who receive income support obtain full time employment and become financially independent. Throughout a six-week training period, participants receive instruction on resume writing, communications, time and financial management and other job search skills and pursue and active job search with the assistance of the program's placement officer. In addition to their wages, participants also receive an earned income supplement which ranges from $1 to $2.50, depending on the hours worked.

"Many families on income support, including single parent families, face barriers to employment, such as child care costs and lack of transportation," said Minister Bettney. "This pilot program is an active measure on the part of the department and SPAN to assist single parents in their transition to employment."

Margaret Acreman is the executive director and founder of SPAN. She said that 90 per cent of custodial single parents are women and 99 per cent of their problems are due to lack of financial resources. "The answer to these problems is full-time employment," said Ms. Acreman. "It is hoped that this program will enable single parents to not only find employment but to sustain it and eventually become independent of any income supports."

The first 12 participants of the program graduated on September 3. Two of the participants found employment. Acreman says that those who have not yet found jobs are actively looking and will continue to receive employment counselling for as long as necessary. An additional 20 single parents began the program today. Between 110 and 120 single parents are expected to receive training and support during the first 12 months of the pilot program. An evaluation of the program will be conducted to measure its success.

Lori Lockhurst, who received training in the initial session, was the first participant to find employment. "I went into the program hoping to find a job and make a better life for myself," said Lockhurst. "I got a job much sooner than I expected, before I had even finished the program. I'm working at a day care now and I love it. I'm thrilled with how things turned out."

Representatives from community agencies and the Premier's Council on Social Development also attended the event.

"The government's Strategic Social Plan recognizes the need to find the most effective way, through all of our programs, to remove barriers to employment and improve the quality of life for people in Newfoundland and Labrador," Minister Bettney concluded. "The Single Parent Pilot Program is one way in which the department, by partnering with community groups such as SPAN, is striving to achieve this goal."

Media contact:

Karen Kelloway
Department of Human Resources and Employment
(709) 729-4062

Yvette Walton
Program Coordinator
Single Parent Association of Newfoundland
(709) 738-3401

1998 09 28                                                          1:00 p.m.

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