When Liz Ramirez started going into labor with her second child a month early she was terrified but a small voice in her head whispered “This is going to be okay.”
That was the voice of her Family Support Specialist from Child Crisis Arizona, Silvia, who had been visiting her weekly throughout her pregnancy as part of the Early Head Start program.
Months earlier Liz had signed up for the program to get some extra support and guidance through her pregnancy. The Early Head Start Program is designed to support parents in their role as primary caregivers and teachers of their children, and to assist families in meeting personal goals and achieving self-sufficiency. These lessons begin during pregnancy and continue until the child is three years old and graduates to preschool.
Liz’s son, Kevin, was born premature and had to stay in the hospital for a month to monitor a heart murmur and low birth weight. At two months old Silvia encouraged Liz to take Kevin back to the hospital when she noticed his struggle to breathe during their visit. He ended up needing immediate surgery. Through each incident Liz was able to lean on the expertise of her Family Support Specialist, Silvia.
“It was very important for me,” Liz said. “I felt supported by the program. I didn’t feel alone… I was able to understand all the information and resources and bring a nurse to the house and know how to support my child and his development.”
Today Kevin is a thriving toddler and learning more each day inside an Early Head Start classroom in Phoenix and his mom is still learning and benefitting from the knowledge and relationships she has gained through the program.
“I know that a lot of people are afraid to reach out because they feel the program is going to get into their lives and they will be judged but I want them to know they can get the resources and support they need to help their family. Don’t be afraid.”