By Thomas J. Sullivan–
A local nonprofit will celebrate the grand opening of a new facility in Citrus Heights this month that will offer support for single mothers, including affordable daycare, practical workshops, life skills training, and other events and activities.
Construction of the Single Mom Strong Empowerment Center at 7575 Auburn Blvd., Suite 5, is nearing completion and will feature an atrium with an indoor playground. The daycare center, to be open from 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. for full-time or drop-in needs, will be staffed by a paid teacher and parent volunteers.
A grand opening celebration is planned for Saturday, June 15, from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The event will feature carnival games and children’s activities, including appearances by Ariel from the “Little Mermaid” and Spiderman who will drop in.
Guests are encouraged to pre-register for lunch at the center’s sandwich bar. Items for a silent auction are still being collected, and a wish list for public contributions is posted online at www.myregistry.com.
On June 17, the center’s doors will officially open to single moms “to offer value and activity-based summer camps throughout the summer, addressing a great need for working families,” said Tara Taylor, founder and executive director of the nonprofit Single Mom Strong.
In an interview with The Sentinel last month, Taylor said her organization was in the final stages of receiving state licensing certification for the new facility, which she said has involved an “extensive certification process.”
The Empowerment Center, located at the corner of Auburn Boulevard and Pratt Avenue, isn’t far from Carriage Drive Elementary School. Taylor said the center’s location places it in an ideal position “to serve single moms who need a convenient, affordable childcare option close to home.”
She plans to spend much of the summer informing single moms in the community to visit the new center and learn about its programs.
“The cost of childcare is a significant strain on the family budget, particularly for single parents,” Taylor said in a news release about the center. “The problem multiplies when school is not in session, and full-day childcare programs are needed such as during summer and winter school breaks.”
According to scheduling information posted on their web site, once open, the center’s partial-day preschool program will host 15 students per session, Monday through Friday.
Two sessions will be offered: a morning session from 7 a.m. to noon, and an afternoon session from 12:30 to 5:30 p.m. An after-school program will also be offered for up to 28 students per session, Monday through Friday.
During summer months, a school-aged summer camp is also planned to be offered to up to 28 students per session during weekdays.
When the new school year starts in the fall, Taylor said the center will offer preschool and childcare programs, including extended hours and drop-in care, in a co-operative style childcare where parents can volunteer in exchange for reduce rates.
Moms are expected to pay $79 per week, per child, including four hours of volunteer time at the center. The cost is $99 without the commitment of volunteer hours.
The center will also offer a variety of personal and professional growth program for single mothers, with a wide range of topics such as goal setting, budgeting and self-defense, as well as one on-one coaching and mentoring.
The inspiration for Single Mom Strong has been drawn from its founder’s own personal experience, who raised her daughter on her own from the age of six months.
“I know from my own experience that it really does take a village to raise a child,” Taylor said, calling it “the hardest, but most rewarding thing I have ever done.”
On her organization’s web site, Taylor recalls leaving her ex-husband when her daughter was six months old. The only time she tried receiving aid, she was turned down because she made $27 per month too much to qualify for assistance.
“In that moment I wanted to ask for a pay REDUCTION,” Taylor says, but she instead turned the experience into further motivation.
“I wanted to make that path a bit easier for other single mothers, so I decided to create the ‘village’ that every mom needs when raising a child.”
In starting Single Mom Strong, Taylor’s own research revealed that one in four children in the U.S. under the age of eighteen is being raised by a single mother. She also references studies showing fatherless children “are more likely to have educational deficiencies, engage in sex at a younger age, have lower occupational status and income as adults, and give birth outside of marriage themselves.”
Taylor sees Single Mom Strong as a community, meeting the need for belonging and love for single mothers and their children. She believes that single moms who utilize the center’s programs and support will feel confident that their children are in safe, quality childcare, and with less worry, can better provide for their families and achieve their personal goals.
Single Mom Strong’s core program also offers multiple events per month, with childcare provided where needed. A “Mom’s Night Out” event gives single moms a much-needed break and offers a variety of workshops to provide resources and life skills, such as goal setting, time management, and self-defense.
Taylor, a life coach, has led some of the classes, while other single mothers and industry professionals lead ones in their respective areas of expertise. She also has launched a Men’s Mentorship program, which seeks to create relationships with “caring, positive male role models and school-aged children of single moms.”
In addition to the creation of its flagship center in Citrus Heights, Taylor said she would like to see the establishment of new Single Mom Strong nonprofit chapters opened in other cities throughout the country. She’s currently working to establish a Las Vegas, Nevada chapter.