Program Proposal and Director Profile

Program Description

Stepping Stones Family Services is a registered Nonprofit Organization servicing lower income mothers in need in the Greater North Shore, Massachusetts area. SSFS assists mothers through providing basic child care items, teaching proper child and family care, assisting with enrollment in other community based services, and helping to prepare mothers for the work force or return to school. SSFS provides assistance to enrolled mothers through a multi faceted approach.


Unique & Different

Stepping Stones Family Services includes:

Stepping Stones Family Closet-  Stepping Stones Family Closet is open as a free pop up “shop” during our Family Gathering event for moms in need to get needed items such as diapers, wipes, clothes, formula, etc. as well as being open 3 days a week for mothers to pick up emergency items at our Haverhill office.

Stepping Stones Family Gathering- a twice monthly event (one in Haverhill, one in Lawrence) for moms in need to learn more about services offered, speak with child development specialists, make connections with one another, participate in free child care/healthy family classes and shop our free family closet! All mothers who attend our Family Gathering receive free diapers and wipes!

Stepping Stones Family Services- Opening July 1st! Our “home base” in Haverhill, MA. Office hours are 3 days a week. Mothers can drop by to pick up emergency items, receive tutoring services and job prep assistance, get information on additional community services offered and more!

Stepping Stones Family Home- coming soon! A home for homeless mothers to live for up to 2 years while attending a 2 or 4 year College, trade school, or on the job training. Our goal is to provide mothers with a safe and secure home while offering guidance while they strive to reach their career goals





Jillian Tsiplakis

Program Director and Founder

I can remember the exact moment my life changed. While deployed to Afghanistan in 2010-2011 I served as a part of a female engagement team working with the women and children in Afghanistan. My work allowed me the flexibility to plan and implement my own programs as well as working with the Civil Affairs team on their initiatives. After holding one of my many women's shuras (meeting with locals) to discuss ideas for women's sewing programs and health programs, I was preparing to leave when a widow named Bibi Juma grabbed my hand and pleaded with me "we are poor people... there is nothing you can do for us (the women of Afghanistan) but you can help our children, for they are the future of Afghanistan" I promised her I would do what I could to help and walked back to the truck with my eyes full of tears and heart full of hope.

I truly believe that the key to success lay in the foundation of education for children no matter where they live. Learning of the alarming 2% literacy rate in the province, I knew I had to do something to help change that and to keep my promise to Bibi. I began an education initiative, carrying school books and backpacks into the villages to give these children of war a real chance at life. Through research, I found and partnered with a book company from Los Altos California who provided stories of traditional Afghan folklore printed in both Pashtu and Dari. I then had these stories recorded with page turn signals (think Reading Rainbow for Afghanistan!) to be played on Afghan and coalition force radio stations. We handed out the books, solar powered radios and schedules of reading times to the villages and the program took off. Villagers across the province began asking our US soldiers how they too could be provided with these books! I continued my work, helping provide health services for the women and assisting in opening the first two girls middle schools ever in the province.

For the first time in my life I felt like I really made a difference in other’s lives. Upon my arrival home I began exploring career options which would give me the same since of pride and accomplishment I felt in Afghanistan. I finally decided to explore a path I found to be most similar to my work in Afghanistan and that was working with at risk youth here in America. Interviewing at an Alternative High School in the area I was elated to be offered a job as a classroom aide out of a field of 67 candidates. It was my military experience which had set me apart and I vowed to once again keep my promise to Bibi this time by educating our youth here at home so our next generation may be more compassionate about helping those in need.

I have found my place working with these children, however in February of 2016 I experienced a particularly trying time in my career as an educator. I never fully grasped the true struggle of our population until a 17 year old student at our school found herself homeless with her young daughter in early 2016. Immediately stepping in to help, I called over 30 programs and services over the course of a few days. Unfortunately there were limited to no programs which catered to homeless mothers under the age of 18. Due to being deemed homeless, this young mother's daughter was ultimately removed from her and we needed to go to court to petition to allow this young mother to regain custody. During the time in court fighting to reunite mother and baby,  the idea of Stepping Stones Family Home was born. From there the mission evolved to an all inclusive focus with Stepping Stones Family Services.

After developing our Program Proposal I enrolled in classes with the Veteran Business Owners Initiative. After graduating from the 6 month, 18 module certificate program SSFS is now a member organization of the Veteran Business Owners Association and has an amazing set of supports and resources through this group. I have continued on with my education through the Nonprofit Management Certificate Program through Harvard University in the summer of 2018. I believe it is vital to the success of Stepping Stones Family Services to ensure our staff at all levels are continually expanding their knowledge and education in the field we are so passionate about.