During the past two years in my role as Family Services Coordinator, I have observed many families’ stories. These stories are one that needed to be shared.
* A pregnant mother at age 20, stuck in the cycle of financial abuse from her family, wanted so badly trying to find her own place to live. Her minimum-wage job at fast food restaurant barely paid the monthly rent, let alone anything else to provide for herself and her 2-year old daughter. A Crittenton staff member took it upon herself to help this young mother take an employment test online, as well as purchase her some items for her first apartment. She bought her blankets, dishes, towels, etc. This teen said, “I don’t have much to give you to say thank you, but I want to buy you something.” She came in the next day with a coffee and a handwritten card that said, “I don’t get much help in my life. So when someone helps me, it means a lot. Thank you for doing this for me.”
* With five children under age ten, this mother did not get much time to herself. Struggling with depression, our Parent educator brought the children “calming corner activities” and offered to make their next home visit at McDonald’s so the kids could play and get some energy out. When our parent educator offered to buy this mother lunch, she was nearly in tears. “We NEVER get to go out to eat,” she said. “I don’t even know what I would order.”
The families we serve deal with small crises every day. They live without secure housing, a living wage, their own transportation, and do not always know where their next meal is coming from. Our role is to help lighten their load by strengthening the family unit. We are teaching parents the importance of play and quality time which are both powerful tools to help a child learn about the world around them as they form a secure attachment with their parent. We leave books at every visit to teach families how important literacy is to brain development from the time of birth. With weekly support visits, parent education, parent-child interaction activities, resource referrals, and goal-setting; our Parent Educators are changing the lives of two generations at a time.
Weekly home visiting programs are a proven prevention strategy for breaking the destructive cycles of abuse and neglect. Last year, our Parent Educators provided 701 home visits at no cost to the families to fulfill our mission of protecting and nurturing children and families.
Sarah Chapman Family Services Coordinator