Bendigo Community Health Services, MacKillop Family Services and CatholicCare Sandhurst have partnered to deliver the Cradle To Kinder program for vulnerable young Bendigo mothers from our new kidzspace hub at Kangaroo Flat. The program will help young mums such as Jacinta face the challenges of life as a parent ...

At 22, Jacinta found herself in a difficult place: pregnant and facing life as a single mother.

With no family support and no friends with children to lean on for help, the Bendigo mum remembers that time as one of fear and uncertainty over what the future held.

Thankfully, salvation came in the form of a leaflet detailing a program aimed at young mothers about to, or who had just had their baby. And at 30 weeks pregnant, it was the lifeline Jacinta had been looking for.

“I started attending the group just after my son, Brody, was born,” she recalls. “Suddenly I wasn’t alone. There were other mums like me, most without partners, and we became a great support to each other.”

Supportive friends were not the only benefit Jacinta gained. Attending weekly sessions, she was informed of community services available to her and her son. Each month, specialist speakers were organised to talk on subjects that ranged from the importance of good nutrition for brain development and how to clean your child’s teeth to understanding the different emotional stages of babies and toddlers.

It was during a physiotherapy talk that Jacinta discovered her son had a problem with his hand (and subsequently, feet) and was directed to a specialist service.

“I would never have been able to find such a service if I hadn’t been advised where to go,” she said.

Jacinta is adamant that without access to such an early intervention program, her son wouldn’t be as well looked after as he is, nor would she be as confident in her parenting skills.

“I have gained so much from the group and I know the knowledge I’ve received will help my son reach his full potential.”

Jacinta is also working towards realising her career goals: she is about to complete a Certificate IV in Community Services, with plans to undertake her diploma.

“Some of the women in my group are studying and really encouraged me to go back to school. I’ve enjoyed it so much and the support I’ve received has been great.”