Back to school is a time filled with great expectations. Kids and youth starting a fresh school year often have to adjust to new schools, teachers, friends and routines. But, all of these changes bring the possibility of unlimited opportunities and experiences as well!

Summer routines evolve from lazy days to ones filled with tight schedules, busy dinner times, and endless evening chores. The Women’s Centre of Halton (WCH) would like make this transition just a little easier for everyone involved.

Many moms may feel anxious over the costs involved in getting everyone back-to-school ready. School supplies, new clothes and shoes for kids that have grown over the summer can take a toll on household budgets. But, there are ways to reduce the financial burden so that going back to school is exciting and enjoyable for everyone.

The Salvation Army in Oakville, Burlington, and Milton offer backpacks filled with grade specific items for students starting kindergarten right up to grade 12. Register for the backpack program from late July until early August by contacting the case manager at your local Salvation Army.

If you live in Halton Hills school supplies are available from Links to Care through their Care in the Community program. Be sure to check out the wide variety of services available to Halton Hills families that provide support when navigating difficult times.

Burlington moms can also drop by the Compassion Society to pick up backpacks and school supplies. While you’re there find out about their other services.

Oakville is fortunate to have Safetynet Child and Youth Charities. In addition to a clothing bank, Safetynet offers free tutoring, music lessons, bicycles, household furniture as well as a wide variety of kitchen items.

St. Christopher’s Church in Burlington runs a free clothing store Tuesdays from 4 to 6 pm. and Saturdays 10 am. to noon. Be sure to check out their food bank hours and Tuesday community dinners as well.

Community dinners are a wonderful chance to get out and share a meal with your neighbours. Kids and youth may be more open to trying new foods in these settings, but more importantly, it gives moms a break from the usual hectic dinner routine and an opportunity to make new friends.

Glad Tidings Pentecostal, Wellington Square United and St. Christopher’s Churches in Burlington have been holding welcoming free family dinners for a long, long time.

If you live in Oakville Kerr Street Missions has family and community dinners a couple of nights each week. St. Luke’s Palermo Anglican Church community dinners happen the third Thursday of the month.

Grace Anglican Church in Milton hosts it community dinner the first Thursday of the month. While St. Andrew’s United Church in Georgetown serves up community on the third Friday of each month.

Make the time to browse these church links to discover other services your family is welcome to use.

If you’re needing a hand-up to fill your own kitchen cupboards, a complete listing of food banks and where to get food in Halton can be found here.

There are times when all parents could use a little help nurturing their children. Reach Out Centre for Kids (ROCK) offers a wide range of services to support child, youth and family development. Beginning with the early years new parents can learn valuable information about family, parenting, and health issues.

ROCK’s Walk-In Counselling Clinics provide quick access to therapeutic intervention. The entire family or individual family members can go to the clinic without an appointment during walk-in clinic hours.

ROCK is an excellent resource when children and youth have mental health issues. Locations throughout Halton region make it easier to access help when you need it.

Where to Get Help in Halton is a comprehensive guide filled with essential information like how to access free dental care, get financial and budgeting assistance, as well as information for newcomers.

Last, but certainly not least, the WCH would like to remind moms that in order to take care of your children you need to take care of yourself. The WCH would like to invite you join us for a couple of self-help workshops this fall. Learn how to reduce your stress then, practice some self-care because if you’re not good then no one in your family will be good.

Once you’re feeling more relaxed and cared for consider signing up for our employment training program or one-on-one employment coaching to help you move closer to getting that job you’ve always wanted.

The staff and volunteers at the WCH are always happy to see you and ready to help you achieve your next goal. We’re looking forward to seeing you soon.