Share the Journey —
A well-equipped mother

Cydnei Dean

I’ve worked in service my whole career, as a social service worker with Child Protective Services and as a family advocate with the Center for Women and Families. I’ve seen a lot of families that have experienced trauma. That’s one reason I’m so proud of the work we do at Catholic Charities of Louisville to lay foundations for happy, healthy and well-equipped families.

As program coordinator for Catholic Charities’ Community Support Services, I get to work with moms who are expecting and already parenting through two of our programs, Mother-Infant Care and Mama Matters. Because we are celebrating Mother’s Day this month, I’m excited to share with you how we equip moms to build vibrant families and to tell you about a special need.

In Mother-Infant Care, expecting moms complete a six-week class that covers things from labor and birth to parental rights, including breastfeeding, baby milestones, healthy pregnancy and child safety. Along the way, moms earn important items like clothing, diapers and even cribs with their attendance and participation.

Our Mama Matters is a program for moms with children ages 5 and under. We call it a support group but really it’s simply a place for moms to get together, share their joys and challenges, and help others with what they’ve learned.

This group is especially meaningful to those who are here, sometimes temporarily, from other countries. Away from the traditional support of families and friends, they receive strength and encouragement from other moms in the group.

Our moms and moms-to-be never hesitate to express their delight and gratitude for our programs. One mom had been trying for several years to become pregnant. When she did last November, she wanted to be as prepared as possible. She was referred to us by Little Way Pregnancy Resource Center and just completed Mother-Infant Care classes in April. She said she found them “very valuable” and signed up for Mama Matters right away.

A young mom in her early 20s didn’t even know she was pregnant until her eighth month and said she “had no idea what to do.” She was relieved to find an outreach that offered not only resources but education. After she completed Mother-Infant Care, she joined the Mama Matters support group and has attended ever since.

“I cannot tell you how much your support and love mean to us,” she wrote to us. “We always appreciate it.”

And now, about that special need: A group of us in Louisville are collaborating to address the diaper need in Louisville.

Diaper need is an insufficient supply of diapers to keep an infant or child clean, dry and healthy. Diapers cost on average $80 a month per child. One in three Louisville families lacks the resources to buy enough diapers.

What may really surprise you about this is the ripple effects this has on families. Diaper need is associated with health problems for both mother and child, including postpartum depression, lack of bonding and diaper rash.

Because daycares require parents to send diapers with their children, some who cannot afford diapers wind up quitting their jobs because they can’t access daycare. Not unrelated, a study in Connecticut showed that every dollar invested to address diaper need increased the income of recipient families by $11.

You also may donate diapers to Kentucky’s only diaper bank, located at St. Bernadette Church. (It provides diapers to 13 local organizations.) Find it on Facebook at facebook.com/SaintBernadetteLouisvilleDiaperBank.

Cydnei Dean is the program coordinator for Family Support Services at Catholic Charities of Louisville.

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