Saskatoon program helping young moms reconnect with kids

Some young women whose children have been put into foster care are getting a second chance at parenting thanks to a program in Saskatoon.

Some young women whose children have been put into foster care are getting a second chance at parenting thanks to a program in Saskatoon.

Among them is Helenor Moostoos, 23, who left her children alone last year while under the influence of alcohol and lost custody of her three daughters as a result.

She's now working to make up for that mistake at Pleasant Hill Place, which provides counselling, parenting classes and a means for moms to reintegrate into their children's lives.

Life at the multi-storey home is a big change from the day in January 2008 when Moostoos was in a house where everyone had been drinking.

She left the house, and her five-month-old girl wandered outside into the cold. Neighbours called police, and Moostoos's children were taken away.

For Moostoos, it was a turning point.

Moostoos and her three little girls Tynisha, 5, Harriet, 3, and Hailey, 1, have been at the residence for several months and will remain there for another six months.

"It was kind of hard because I had to stay away from friends — some friends that were alcoholics," she said. "It took me two months to say, 'I don't need this anymore.'"

Now, she says, she's on the road to recovery.

Life at the residence means rules, chores and curfews. Inside the house, staff are available around the clock. 

Moostoos gets alcohol counselling and classes on how to be a better parent.

"Pretty tough dealing with a five-year-old and a three-year-old and a one-year-old," she said. "But I'm getting used to routines like naptime, getting them up in the morning, getting them ready. At the end of the day, I just want to lay down for a while. It's pretty tough."  

People like Moostoos deserve a second chance, says Laura Berbe, who is in charge of the home.

"With the two residents we have now, [a second chance is] everything," Berbe said. "When they say they will do anything, they really mean they will do anything."

If residents graduate from the program, they regain full custody, but if they fail, the children go to a foster home, Berbe said.

Moostoos said she's determined she and her children will come out of the program a family again.

"You know, I keep thinking about it whenever I want to slip or something," she said. "I'm making the point that this is enough."