Young Mums Will Achieve (YMWA) is a dedicated project which provides activities and specialist support for vulnerable young parents or expectant parents aged 14-24 in Cornwall.
Operated through a multi-agency partnership between Fit ’N’ Fun Kids Childcare, Cornwall College and Cornwall Council, it aims to improve outcomes for teenage parents and their children as well as reduce the incidence of child poverty. Its primary objectives are to support mums back into mainstream education, employment and training while supporting the development of positive parenting and life skills.
The project is targeted at young mums who have complex needs and/or face multitudes of barriers to learning, have housing problems, suffer drug/alcohol abuse or suffer from low self-esteem.
Many of those who have accessed YMWA are children in care themselves. Some have mental health and/or domestic abuse issues and are at risk of becoming criminals.
Under the project, participants can gain qualifications through Cornwall College, access 1:1 career advice and general information and guidance, while their children are cared for at an onsite crèche provided by Fit ’N’ Fun Kids.
There is also the opportunity for participants to meet and interact with other young families and engage with services.
Since the project launched in 2009, it has helped nearly 500 teenage mums in a variety of ways, from entering employment and further education to improving their mental health and being taken off child protection plans.
Mums have progressed into childcare, the construction industry and working for the emergency services, for example. Others have gone on to higher education, studying criminology, fitness and psychology.
As many parents join the project at the very early stages of pregnancy, they also form strong bonds with their children's practitioners.
One mum, who achieved Level 1 and 2 maths and English thanks to YMWA, says she gained life-long friendships through the project, which also gave her the push she needed to apply for a job.
Prior to the introduction of YMWA, there was no dedicated further education programme for teenage parents in the county, which meant fewer than 19 per cent of young parents were engaged in education, employment and training (EET). At the time, Cornwall was ranked 138th out of 151 local authorities for young parents engaging in EET, but as the project has grown, it has quickly outperformed other local authorities.
Heather Tabb, curriculum area manager of foundation programmes and Access at Cornwall College St Austell, commended Fit ’N’ Fun Kids for helping to make YMWA an ‘exemplary’ project. She said their staff show ‘immense’ respect for the mums’ wishes in regard to the care of their children.
“I absolutely loved YMWA. It helped me in so many ways and I am so chuffed to have had the opportunity. It's a shame it's not done all over the UK
BHT Early Education and Training, Talking Together (a Better Start Bradford project)
Langtry Nursery, London Borough of Camden, Working with fathers and male carers initiatives
Open to services or projects that support parents, enhance their understanding of their children's learning and development, or improve children's outcomes through involvement and co-operation with families