Families Futures Downeast Holds Graduation

The Family Futures Downeast had their graduation on Wednesday night at Washington County Community College. There were seven graduates this year pictured (l-r) Tonisha Lank, Danielle Sabrina Doten, Haylie McCray, Jasmine Jane Storey, Emily Stuart, Chelsea Washburn and Erika Rose Dudley. (Photo credit: Marsha Sloan and Jessica McPhail)

By Kaileigh Deacon

 

For many considering college there are a lot of things to think about before taking that leap, especially if you have been out of high school for more than a few years. Life has already happened and you aren’t in the same position as many other traditional college students. In Washington County, for parents with young children looking to go back to school or start school for the first time, there is a program called Family Futures Downeast. 

Family Futures Downeast is a program that looks at two generations of learners, the parents and the children. Together, with the parent, they look at what they are hoping to achieve, and through a one-year program work toward those goals however big or small. The program partners with many local organizations to help give parents the support and encouragement they need as they work on these goals. 

For low-income parents, going back to school can be an economic, transportation or cultural challenge. Family Futures Downeast helps parents work past these obstacles by providing things such as a gas fill up to get to school and childcare. 

Parents also get help from coaches, someone who has taken the time to get to know them and their goals and will do what they can to help them achieve those goals. Coaches work beyond the academic field by helping parents develop skills to help in every aspect of their life, not just their academic life. They work to help parents move forward understanding how trauma, poverty and other struggles are impacting their families and helping them to develop skills that will help them succeed. 

Children of parents enrolled in the program also receive the benefit of early education. While their parents are learning in classrooms at Washington County Community College and University of Maine campuses, the kids are learning in classrooms of their own. While their parents take classes, the children get the benefits of a daycare and a pre-school combined. The children receive educational and social instruction. 

“This whole family approach helps ensure that the families’ basic needs are met, and is combined with intensive structured coaching that builds skills and gives parents the opportunity to imagine and pursue the future they want for themselves and their children,”  the Families Futures Downeast website says. 

Wednesday night was the graduation for this year’s group of parents and kids through the Family Futures Downeast at Washington County Community College. There were seven parents who completed the year-long program, taking the next step in creating a future for their families. 

 

“We have a goal. Our goal is that we’re striving to enable our students to empower and boost them. We’re hoping that our students are enabled to reach any dream they might have,” Jessica McPhail of Family Futures Downeast said at the graduation on Wednesday night. Some students may continue on with their education either at WCCC or elsewhere, some may choose not to, but all of these students achieved something by completing the year. They were able to start their college experience while still maintaining a job and raising their families.