Interviews with Kylie
Kylie talks about how the parenting support she receives through Jeremiah Program has made the biggest impact of any service.
Kylie reflects on the skills and confidence she has gained since joining Jeremiah Program.
Kylie is 22 and lives with her three-year-old daughter, Mataia, at the Jeremiah Program campus in Fargo, North Dakota. Parenthood was lonely and sometimes even traumatic for Kylie before she joined Jeremiah Program. Now, she and Mataia are forging a bright future together, surrounded by a support system of people they know they can trust—and friends who have come to feel like family.
Which aspect of the program has made the biggest difference for you? Why?
Before I became a participant in the Jeremiah program, I did not have a lot of support around me. I spent a lot of time alone. I didn’t have people I could call on to watch Mataia. I didn’t have any family in the area. And, so, moving into the Jeremiah Program, that was my main goal—to have all that support. Without the program, I would not have a team of people that I know I can rely on to watch my daughter, pick her up if I’m late, those types of things. So, to me, that’s the most important.
Tell me about the role housing has played in your experience with the program. What is it like?
I’ve had experience in a strictly female living setting, so I’m more familiar with the mechanics [of] how it works socially. You get a building full of women and there’s bound to be some disagreements or drama, but if we focus on the culture and the program and what it’s meant to be, then we really can empower each other and be there for each other.
I’ve made some great friendships here. As far as the apartment itself, moving in it’s already furnished and utilities are included, WIFI [is] included. And just that alone takes such a burden off of your shoulders as a single parent—not having to pay for those things. And just knowing that you have people here on top of that to help you with whatever you need.
Describe your experience with the childcare center.
My daughter, she can stay until 5:30 PM at the daycare. So, on days I have to work, I know she’s somewhere that she’s getting what she needs, and she’s got her friends there. Also, the life skills opportunities: We’ve taken a “Love and Logic” parenting class, among others. Without having that childcare during those times, I wouldn’t have the opportunity to learn those things or take those classes at all. And a lot of them are really useful.
It’s really important that the daycare is like a second home for them. It’s right downstairs. All of their friendships are with classmates who are also are their neighbors, and so a lot of times they get done in class and [say], “I want to go to my friend’s house!” and they’re able to do that. We’re going to be here for a couple of years and it’s just great to be able to form those relationships. Having that continuity early on in their education is really important. Her best friend’s mom is also my best friend, so it just works out.
What are some of the big goals you are working toward currently?
I am studying health service administration. I’m going for a bachelor’s degree at MSUM. I recently graduated from the Minnesota State Community and Technical College with a diploma in medical coding and an associate’s degree in medical administrative assistance. So, I am about halfway there.
How has your perspective on parenting changed since you’ve been part of the program?
I definitely know that I am not alone in it. I feel like it’s a group effort, here in Jeremiah. As they say, a village raises a child.
What would you say to other women who are considering becoming part of the program?
I would say go for it. Absolutely. What I learned through early adulthood is you want to take advantage of all your opportunities while you can before it’s too late. And, so, having this opportunity is once in a lifetime. I mean, your kids are only under five years old once, and you only have the opportunity to do all these things—pursue your career in this type of environment—once. And I think they should absolutely take advantage of it.
What do you feel passionate about?
Right now, I work with Friendship. I am a job coach for people with disabilities and I really, really enjoy doing that. I’m also on the North Dakota Youth Leadership Board, and I represent foster youth across North Dakota. I really enjoy doing that as well.
I’m able to go to conferences and be on panel discussions with my fellow youth members and travel. And I am also on the North Dakota Juvenile Justice Advisory Board, on which I get to sit and listen to what’s going on with our juvenile justice system and try and make suggestions for legislation on that.
I’m really passionate about all the things that I’m doing, and I know that I’m going for a solid career in healthcare. With all the things that I’m doing and that together, who knows what I can do?
How do you see the Two Generation model working in your life?
I think the easiest way to think about that is through role-model behavior. Especially in this early childhood development, your child is watching you and learning from you constantly. Knowing that you can do whatever you set your mind to and you don’t need anybody. Just giving them that kind of confidence and knowing that there will be people around that you can ask for help—and you don’t need to be afraid to do that. Really letting them know that, whatever they put their mind to, they can find a way to get it done.
What changes have you noticed in yourself since you joined the program?
I definitely know that I can get things done. I know that I can do many things at once. I have three jobs right now and I’m going to school. So, just to think of all the opportunities, and instead of thinking like, “Oh, I can’t do that. I don’t have someone to watch my daughter,” or “Oh, I’m too busy.” Just having that mindset of, “Hey, I can take advantage of all these opportunities and I’m going to find ways to do so.”
Is there anything else we haven’t talked about that you’d like to share?
Before I came into the Jeremiah program, my daughter and I were dealing with CPS [Child Protective Services], and she was not home until she was two years old. I won’t go into too much detail, but I just want to say that when I started Empowerment, that really was the turning point for me: knowing that these people really do want to help me, and they want our family to succeed.
They were able to bring us together by getting me into this program. All these wonderful people, Amy, the family services director, and one of the Empowerment facilitators, they would come with me to family team meetings and court hearings just to show that extra mile of support and say, “Hey, we’re here for you. We believe in you, and this is where you’re meant to be.” I knew I was meant to be in the Jeremiah Program after that.
Interview has been edited for length and clarity.