In 2016, Mike and his partner separated. It was the right decision for Mike, but in the short term, it was extremely difficult.
He and his ex-partner were still living together as roommates in a rented house with their four young children. Mike, whose ex kept an unpredictable schedule, took on the role of primary caregiver, but this made it difficult for him to work. When he approached CUPS that fall, it was to get a referral to the Calgary Interfaith Food Bank.
A CUPS case manager provided a Food Bank referral, but it was clear that Mike’s family needed other types of support as well. The stress of the separation and the unpredictable living environment had taken a toll on the children, who were showing signs of anxiety and depression. “I had started recognizing that my kids were having some major issues,” Mike says.
As for Mike, he had no family nearby to help him and no reliable income. To add to his stress, he had received an eviction notice from his landlord. When Mike spoke to his case manager about these problems, he found that CUPS could provide far more support than he expected. “Any time I needed help, [my case worker] told me where I needed to go,” he says.
Becoming a Nurturing Parent
CUPS helped Mike to enroll in the Nurturing Parents program and the Nurturing Fathers’ program, easing some of the family’s stress. “It helped me be more understanding of my kids and be more empathetic toward them,” Mike says. The children became involved with programs and events at the Child Development Centre, where they received one-on-one attention and developmental support. CUPS also provided legal assistance so that Mike could gain full custody of the children, and we helped to place the father and kids in safe, stable housing.
A more resilient family
Today, Mike regularly attends a CUPS drop-in support group for fathers, and he’s studying for a sociology degree at the University of Calgary. His three youngest children have attended Kindergarten at the CUPS Child Development Centre, all all his kids enjoy attending CUPS activities and events with their dad. Mike says their situation is still a work in progress, but it’s improving all the time. “My kids enjoy going to the programs. CUPS has become a safe place for them,” Mike says.