Finding Community in Home Visitation
Lisa wasn’t totally sure what to do when she noticed her oldest son, Michael, had some developmental delays, but she knew she had to find all of the resources she could to help him. On the advice of her son’s speech therapist Lisa enrolled in Child Crisis Arizona’s Home Visitation Program hoping it would help her find additional resources for Michael. Little did she know the Home Visitation Program would offer her so much more than a few new resources — an entire community of support for her, Michael and her entire family.
Now, 2 years later, Lisa and her family are still a part of the home visitation program and her younger son, Matthew, is enrolled too! Read about Lisa’s experience in the Home Visitation Program below:
Q: Which of your family members participate in the program?
LISA: I’ve got 2 boys in the program – a 3 year old, Matthew, and a 4 (almost 5) year old, Michael. We started with the Home Visitation Program 2 years ago in October, 2014.
Q: How did you first find out about our Home Visitation Program?
LISA: My older son, Michael has a developmental delay. I started seeking out services when he was around 22 months because I knew something wasn’t quite right. We had started private speech therapy for him and our speech therapist let us know about this program. She said she had read about it somewhere and told us that it was a program that helped families find resources. At this point, we didn’t have a diagnosis for Michael and we didn’t know exactly what was going on with him. So, when she gave us the information we called.
Q: What happened next?
LISA: We called! At first I was told there was a year-long wait-list, but they were really supportive up front. They called me back to check in couple of weeks later even before we were in the program. At that point I told them we had a diagnosis and I think they made it a priority to get us in because they knew I was really struggling with what to do. We got into the program in the next couple weeks.
Q: How has your experience been in the program?
LISA: It’s been awesome. I have a Masters degree in child development and I do recreational therapy with children. But, when it’s your children, it’s just different. You’re so involved in the day to day living stuff that it’s hard to get the kids to see you in that educator role because they just see you as mom. Just watching them do these developmental activities with them… I had to watch someone else do that with my kids. It snaps me out of being the mom that is telling them to finish their lunch. It’s a good reminder – this is what it looks like to teach them how to sit still during instruction, this is what it looks like to teach them not to color on the walls. And then your parent educator comes back the next week and refreshes your memory of how to do that all over again.
I have a lot of resources. Not only that, I have childhood development knowledge and the ability to find resources, and it’s still hard. Having someone else advocate for you and your children… that just gets you so much farther. This program was that huge support for me. And it was just having someone there to reassure me too, because as parents we are always second guessing ourselves. For example, we got turned down for early intervention services for Michael in the beginning. People kept telling me we could reapply, but I doubted it. I just kept thinking, “Am I going to get turned down again?” Having someone that‘s there to support and validate you is so essential. I wouldn’t have reapplied for those services if it weren’t for that support. And we got it! If it weren’t for their support and advocating for me, I don’t think we would’ve gotten it.
This program has also just been such a safe place for my family. Every month they have those community activities at a park and those are AWESOME! It’s out of this world. It’s not 3 things of Play-Doh on the table and a couple of markers, you know? It’s like Pinterest blew up in the room! There are laminated printables and stickers and crafts and all kinds of things! The kids can be there for 3 hours and not be bored. It’s great! Also, it’s just been so hard for me bringing my kids out in public because my older one doesn’t have great processing and he’s prone to wander off. He needs more watching. But here, they know you, you’re a part of the community. Everyone is there to help me and no one is going to judge me. Having a special needs kid, he needs tons of services and so much support. And these are activities I can bring both kids to and we can all participate as a family. And my little one can still have access to those same services and opportunities. That’s huge for me! It’s the only thing we’re involved in that’s like that.
We’ve been involved in so many therapies since Michael was 2. But, because these parent educators are coming into our home, they know our family more than anyone else we work with. I can talk with them about the struggles we’re having and anything else. They make you feel so comfortable and you really feel like they’re your support. I feel like I can go to them and tell them my concerns and frustrations. They’ve always been so supportive.
Q: There are so many misconceptions about Home Visitation Programs. What would you say to someone who is considering enrolling in the Home Visitation Program, but might be on the fence about it?
LISA: I need these services. I need their help. I could not do what I have done without them. I know both of my children would not be getting as educated or as involved in community activities as they are now. I would not be getting the services I am getting if it were not for the home visitation program – their support, their referrals, their contact. Don’t pass that up. I wouldn’t pass that up, no matter what.
This is just a program you can’t go without, no matter what. It really, truly is a support. It’s not an intervention. Being a parent is so, SO hard. Looking back I can’t even imagine how far behind I would be without them.
I’ve come to learn that Child Crisis Arizona is not just crisis intervention. This is a community program. Every parent knows the feeling of “I don’t know what to do”. This is a support to help families before they get into a situation where they are at the end of their rope because they just don’t know how to handle something and don’t know where to turn. Having this support there is so important. This program needs to be happening not just in our community, but in every community.
Ready to enroll in Child Crisis Arizona’s Home Visitation Program? Child Crisis Arizona offers a no-cost home visitation program for all families with children aged birth-5! To learn more visit our home visitation program page online or call us directly at 480-304-9440.