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Kavia is the mother of eight-year-old Sabrina, a second-grader at Stubbs Elementary. Stubbs is one of three schools in our Eastside Community Schools initiative (ECS). Kavia can't say enough about ECS and the Parent Resource Center at Stubbs, where she is an active volunteer.
She explains: "I am able to do things at the Parent Resource Center that I can't do other places, like take computer classes or look up information online. And, I have received help from the ECS case manager for everything from housing to school supplies. I have also made lots friends, and have enjoyed adult conversation over coffee, discussing things like the stages kids go through. All events and activities are family-centered, and Sabrina and I attend almost all of them. This is part of my family and I'll miss them terribly when Sabrina is done at Stubbs."
Kavia sums it up this way: "It really takes a village."
We couldn't have said it better ourselves.
Johanna Santiago wants what all caring parents want for their children – to provide her son with whatever he needs to be safe and healthy with a future filled with promise. And she is determined to make this happen.
But Johanna’s life wasn’t always so focused. In 11th grade, she decided to stop attending school, choosing instead to work during the day while taking GED courses at night. She began working part-time as a Teacher’s Aide at a day care in Wilmington and took classes sporadically. However, she eventually grew disinterested in completing her education. In order to make ends meet, full-time employment became the priority.
At age 24, Johanna found out she was pregnant. While her day care experience had given her some sense of what to expect as a parent, she still felt unprepared. She was referred to our Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) program and was one of the first clients enrolled after the program launched in 2010. NFP, an evidence-based program, uses registered nurses to provide structured home visits to low-income women pregnant with their first child, serving the moms until the child is age two. NFP has been shown to have significant positive outcomes, including reductions in both infant mortality and child abuse/neglect.
Tanya Allen-Simpson, one of six NFP nurses statewide, began working with Johanna. Tanya and the other nurses provide a delicate balance of encouragement, mentoring, education and “real world” guidance to their clients. Regular home visits include health checks for both mom and baby, education on parenting and developmental stages, and hands-on training. Johanna admits that she was hesitant to join the program at first: “I thought Tanya was going to come into to my house and tell me exactly how to raise my baby. But she respected me from the beginning and helped me make the right decisions along the way for me and my baby.”
Today, Johanna is a motivated, proud mom of 6-month-old Jeremy, a bright-eyed, energetic bundle of a boy. She will complete her GED this spring and plans to take evening courses in the fall towards the Training for Early Care and Education certificate program. Certification will mean increased opportunities for employment and self-sufficiency.
Some weeks, Johanna admits, the schedule of work, school and single motherhood can be overwhelming. That’s when she relies on support from family members and Tanya’s regular visits to make it all work. But it is clearly her motivation from within that keeps her focused on achieving her goals so her son’s future has potential.
“Having Jeremy changed my life. I always thought I would go back to school one day, but now I have the inspiration. Tanya gave me the encouragement I needed and I realized I had no more excuses for not getting my education. I know I need to take better care of myself so I can provide for my son. This program has taught me not just how to be a better parent, but so much more.”