Family Empowerment Team
Xyólhmettsel Syémyem - I am taking care of my pregnancy
The Family Empowerment Team (FET) is a collaboration of the Parent Child Assistance Program (PCAP), Growing Great Kids Parenting Program (GGK), Traditional Parenting, Indigenous Doulas and advocacy services.
The Family Empowerment Program is a client centered program. The client determines their needs and direction of support, as well, the client chooses their own goals without judgement. The FET advocate seeks to build relationships with clients and facilitate their connections within community, while providing them information, resources and advocacy. This is a 3-year program.
Eligibility requirements are:
• pregnant or have given birth within the last year OR
• in their childbearing years and currently use alcohol or drugs OR
• have a child with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) OR
• personally, affected with FASD &
• MUST hold a status card
The program is funded by First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) and the mandate is to decrease the incidence of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).
For more information please see the program brochure.
"I was born and raised in the Sto:lo Territory. I became pregnant with my one and only child at the age of 27 years old and was absolutely terrified. My upbringing was fairly stable but I did endure the effects of residential school throughout my life. This left me very scared with a huge lack of confidence when it came to the thought of parenting. At the time of conceiving, I struggled with addiction and a very toxic relationship. My mental health played a large role in my inability to live life with any sort of stability. Of course, my hopes were that if I had a child, my problems would go away and I would naturally evolve into a wonderful person/parent. Unfortunately, this was not my story. The traumas I had faced caused me to be very emotionally unavailable to my daughter, make poor health choices and have a very low tolerance to her typical baby behaviors. Quite often I did not know how to respond to her or problem solve properly.
I have been a very active member in the community and was quite aware of the programs available at the Sto:lo Service Agency and figured I had better access any support services that would assist me on my journey. I had been blessed with the Family Empowerment Team who provided the Growing Great Kids program. This provided me with the tools I needed to get through the day to day struggles of being a new mom. The mentor that worked with me came to my home, assisted me with anything I was struggling with from budgeting, home searching, communication and counselling. She was the liaison from myself to many other services available to mothers such as myself. Even having an experienced mother to hear my struggles, helped get me through the week. If the mentor could not directly provide what I needed, quite often she would find a resource that could. This program saved the relationship I have with my daughter today. I was given confidence and guidance from an experienced mother, a certified worker who then became a big part of our story. I will forever be grateful to the tools that were offered to a very lost mother such as myself. My prayers are that every mother has the opportunity to receive such a wonderful service. We all know there is no handbook that comes with being a parent but this program is a great guide and assists in building confidence in raising children in a happy, healthy environment. Today, my daughter is almost three years old and I still utilize the social and emotional development and communication tools that were shared. I am far from a perfect parent but I would like to think that I am a much better mother than I would have been without the wonderful support of this team."
My name is Natasha Moore, I along with my family of three sons and a partner are currently residing within the Sto:lo Nation territory. I'd like to share a little bit about myself. I grew up in foster care and remember living in a foster home all my life. I've lived in six different foster homes as I can recall; and each home I experienced either mental, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse. The abuse I experience in foster care made it pretty tough for me to trust people as I was always in a defense mode. It has made it difficult to allow others in as I felt people would cause more harm to me even though all they were trying to do was help me.
Back in winter of 2012 my life was crumbling, my children were apprehended from Xyolhemeylh Child and Family Services due to family domestic violence situation. I have never felt so alone or lost in my entire life and I felt like the system won yet again! It was unfortunate that while in care of a foster home my youngest son had stopped breathing for a short period of time and the worker and caregiver failed to contact me. Instead of contacting me they felt it was best to just bring it up at the next meeting. I was very furious and I didn't know who to turn to or how to address the situation. It was at this point in my life that my light turned on I was finally able to see what that I needed to figure out how to get my children home. I was so upset that I had the courage to reach out to one of the support workers from the Family Empowerment Program that I kept running into at previous events and I simply said “I need your help now please I need to get my children back into my care”. I felt that I didn’t have a chance to get my kids back on my own even though I was willing to give it all I had to fight for my son’s rights along with my own. The advocate signed me up for the program and helped me to find the right resources to help me get my children back into my care. From that day on I did everything and anything that was asked of me and I even went above and beyond to prove I deserved my children back in my care. I was told at a meeting with a social worker from Xyolhemeylh Child and Family services that the social worker felt I didn't have the capacity to parent. The more they doubted my capacity the harder I worked to prove to them that I can be a better person then the life I had once showed through my struggles with substance abuse. Growing up I always said I'd lead a better brighter life for my kids as I never wanted them to endure the pain I had while growing up in the system as I felt it failed me big time. That's what helped keep me going day after day finding ways and solutions to be better than the day before.
After 18 long months my kids had finally returned back into my full-time care. I know I couldn't have done it alone; my hands will always go up to the Family Empowerment team because no matter how difficult I may have made things at times they never stopped being there for me or believing me. I feel the Family Empowerment Team helped me in many ways. They were very helpful with looking up helpful resources I needed and connecting me with the right person instead of just giving me the resource number. They have helped me fill out paperwork for various programs and attend meetings. They worked with me to achieve goals that I have set out on my own. They have always made sure I knew they were there to help.