HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) A program in Hartford is helping provide stability for young mothers whose lives have been affected by domestic violence. The Roca Young Mothers program opened in 2021, but the need for services has never been greater.
The first person recommended by Rocas Young Mothers was Stefani Basora. She met the program’s criteria for critical risk of violence and instability after she was arrested days before her daughter was born when she was just 14 years old.
They helped me a lot because when I got pregnant, I was 14 when I gave birth, so I really couldn’t work legally. I couldn’t find a job, Basora said.
Her daughter, who turns two on Saturday, was the reason she left a relationship where there was domestic violence, which gave her the motive to change.
My child comes first. I’m not going to put myself in that situation anymore and I don’t want my daughter to grow up in that environment because I did it and it’s unhealthy, Basora said.
Roca Inc. provided her with all the resources to make a difference.
Ochoi Bacchus, manager of the Roca Young Mothers program, said she also experienced domestic violence.
I survived, I was there, I escaped with four children. Many of us stay because we don’t believe there is a way out. So we say: I will help you. I will hold your hand. “There is a way out of this situation,” Bachus said.
Roca Inc. uses orders from agencies such as the Department of Children and Families (DCF), Hartford police, or local high schools to employ what they call a ruthless approach.
We go and knock on her door until she opens it and we leave. There is nothing a young woman can do to be kicked out of our program. This is a non-judgmental show. We believe that young people are not their behavior and we work with them to change their behavior, said Sunindiya Bhalla, executive vice president of women and 2nd generation at Roca Inc.
Roca Young Mothers works with 80 high-risk women aged 14 to 24. Most of the women in the program have been arrested, have no job or high school diploma, and have experienced domestic violence.
And having a trusting and consistent person – that’s who we are. We are such people for our young people, said Kat Hannah of Roca Young Mothers.
The program typically lasts three to four years and offers mental health counseling and day care services. The organization also helps young mothers covered by the program find work, housing and opportunities for further education.
The Hartford nonprofit has a waiting list.
When we opened in Hartford, I couldn’t have imagined how great the need was and how significant the trauma and victimization of young women is here in Hartford, from sex trafficking to sexual assault to domestic violence. These young women have been through a lot, Bhalla said.
During an interview with News 8 on Monday, Roca Young Mothers received three urgent calls asking for help getting to safety.
They were very supportive. They are one of my greatest resources. Get help. Don’t be afraid, said Mykala Wedler of Hartford.
People who have experienced domestic violence are advised to take back their power and take the first step before it is potentially taken away.
Don’t believe that a little push, a little pinch, a little scream can’t become something more. I lost so many friends. I have friends who are paralyzed because they didn’t leave on time. So I say: don’t wait. Walk away. Their lives will be better and yours too, at least you will be alive, Bacchus said.
More information about the resources available at Roca Young Mothers can be found on the website.
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