Homeward Bound Halton: breaking down barriers to higher education

There is a famous African proverb that states “it takes a village to raise a child.”

Partners and participants at the launch of Homeward Bound Halton

Partners and participants at the launch of Homeward Bound Halton.

On January 21, I joined our community partners at Sheridan College to celebrate the launch of Homeward Bound Halton. This support program accepts five single-parent mothers per year facing economic hardship and provides them with an opportunity to pursue a college education without facing the financial barriers that can be associated with higher education. Homeward Bound Halton transforms the lives of its participants, helping these mothers build a brighter future for themselves and their children. In total, fifteen women will enter the program over the next three years.

ChairCarrHomewardBoundWEBHomeward Bound Halton is the result of a strong spirit of teamwork and collaboration that Halton Region has been proud to support throughout its development. Our Social & Community Services Department plays a key role in the initiative, providing affordable housing and childcare subsidies that ensure these mothers can focus on their education, their careers and their children.

The program brings community members together in support of a common goal. Partners include:

  • Home Suite Hope – leads and manages the programs, recruits community partners and qualifies applicants while providing ongoing support for participants;
  • Oakville Community Foundation – funds tuition, books, educational expenses and academic upgrading for the first cohort;
  • Sheridan College – provides technology, student support, internship placements and delivers world-class education to participants;
  • Oakville YMCA – offers swimming lessons, teen leadership programs and summer camp experiences for participants’ children;
  • ArtHouse – provides participants’ children between the ages of 7-11 with music, drama and visual arts programming; and
  • Halton Region – will provide housing and childcare subsidies to all 15 participants.

Halton Region recognizes the importance of education. And we believe that self-sufficiency is a matter of opportunity and support. That is why we have established more than 986 affordable housing units in our region since 2007, setting one of the best records in the province. This fuels our drive to provide   assistance for transportation, employment, child care, oral health and housing.

Programs like Homeward Bound Halton help those in need of support and break down barriers to higher education in Halton. Seventy-five per cent of our population over age 25 has some form of postsecondary education, and it is our responsibility to ensure that this advantage remains accessible to everyone.

I cannot overstate the positive effect that Homeward Bound Halton will have. It’s not only beneficial for them, but also for their children, who will gain an understanding of the importance of education.

Five initial opportunities will become thousands as Homeward Bound Halton grows, its ripple effect inspiring us all to think differently about education, poverty and opportunity.

We are fortunate to live in such a strong, inclusive community supported by community partners so eager to help improve our quality of life and the futures of our children. After all, if it takes a village to raise a child – it takes a school to train her parents, caregivers to watch over her, community and government supports to help her family succeed and ensure she has a safe and affordable place to call home.

As always, if you have any Regional concerns or comments you would like to share, please feel free to email me at gary.carr@halton.ca. You can also find me on Twitter @garycarrhalton or on Facebook. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report.”