In the wake of its successes, the EGADZ Sweet Dreams home in Saskatoon has received new investments from both the province and its private investors.The home, a social housing initiative that works to empower independent mothers, was backed by Canada’s first social impact bond, a model in which the provincial government pays back private investors if a social impact criteria has been met.Shelby LaRose, a former program participant of the EGADZ Sweet Dreams home, speaks at an event celebrating the success of the home.Regina-based Conexus Credit Union and Saskatoon couple Wally and Colleen Mah each invested $500,000 toward the project.To be successful, between 2014 and 2019, 22 children had to remain out of foster care for six straight months after moving out of the home with their mothers. The results so far have been even better: 54 out of 55 children have met that criteria.“We had a dream and we needed a solution,” said EGADZ executive director Don Meikle. “We needed a home where trauma, addiction and lack of parenting skills are seen as a challenge, not a barrier.”The project’s successes were celebrated Thursday afternoon outside of the Sweet Dreams home on Queen Street. Among the crowd gathered on the lawn were current and former residents of the home and their children.
A crowd of former program participants, MLAs, and other dignitaries look on at an event celebrating the success of the EGADZ Sweet Dreams home.
Alexa Lawlor /
A successful social impact bond means that the initial funds are returned with interest, with the potential to be re-employed for other qualified projects. Colleen and Wally Mah announced at the celebration that they have committed their $500,000 to EGADZ for future specified capital projects. Conexus also donated about $80,000.In addition, Social Services Minister Paul Merriman announced that the province will commit $120,000 in ongoing annual funding for Sweet Dreams.Shelby LaRose, who spoke at the event, spent about three years in the Sweet Dreams home after the birth of her son. She now has her own home and is in her third year of studies in the Department of Social Work at First Nations University of Canada.As a new mom living with mental health issues and involved in addiction, LaRose said she realized she needed to make a change to better her son’s life and her own.“I remember my son being so small. I knew what I was doing was wrong and that I was passing my trauma on to (him). So I chose healing,” she said. “After completing treatment, we were brought home.”EGADZ staff took care of her son while she was in detox and transported her to a treatment centre in Prince Albert. LaRose was placed in a room at Sweet Dreams with lots of natural light because staff understood she was living with depression and it would be beneficial, she said.The home, which opened in 2014, has served 36 women and their families. Mothers can live there as long as they are pursuing their education, securing employment or are engaged in activities such as life skills or parenting classes. They are also supported through the process of transitioning back into the community when they move out.The home allows families to return at any time. Eight women and 22 children have returned to date, in many cases because mothers had another baby and wanted additional support.“We believe no one can provide a safer environment for their children than a mother that wants to parent their children, and is able to provide for them,” Meikle said.Turning a group of mothers seated in the audience, he added, “You can always come home.”firstname.lastname@example.orgRelated