Around the month of April, for more than ten years now, you may have seen gardens of pinwheels planted in the community, at school, day care or a local hospital or nonprofit organization, and wondered, why? It’s because planting pinwheels represents the bright childhoods we all want for children…
A big reason I’ve become so involved in my community and eager to support parents is because of my own personal story and experience receiving support. In October 2018 I experienced every parents worst nightmare: my three and a half year-old son passed away. After that tragedy, I was offered a whirlwind of supportive services, counseling, classes, family and friends coming to offer support. Every single one played a part in my healing process. What I found most life-altering was my home visiting program.
Home visitors provided a listening ear, in-home coaching and support. They showed up and sat with me in my grief, my worry, my frustration. They listened to my struggles without judgement and genuinely created an atmosphere of friendship. My home visitors helped me to carry the emotional load of parenthood, as well as make sure my children were on track developmentally. Having that extra set of eyes helps you feel better about what you are doing as a parent.
Not only do home visitors offer parenting advice and comradery, they can also refer you to social services if you lose your job or need a doctor or therapist. They can help you apply for social services like LEAP or TANF. They bring gifts. They bring new ideas and they’ll help you find a child care center. They are always there with the knowledge and the know-how to meet you where you are and give you the hand up to get to where you want to be.
Home visiting support helped me through the most unimaginable grief a person can experience. And I will never be able to say thank you enough to those who have helped me become who I am now through all of that pain.
After leaving my job in 2020 due to the pandemic, my home visitor suggested I join the Early Childhood Leadership Commission’s Home Visiting Investment Task Force as a parent voice as a way to stimulate my brain and give back to the community that gave so much to me. The task force works to guide the implementation of the home visiting strategic plan leading to the creation of a continuum of home visiting services in Colorado, something I am so looking forward to seeing.
it was also suggested to me to enroll my children in the Colorado Head Start program, a federal program that promotes the school readiness of children from birth to age five. After enrolling, I took on an additional role for my region’s Head Start Association. As a parent in Head Start, I’m given the peace of mind that my children are given great preparation in school readiness. They also ensure that my children are receiving social and emotional developmental support. I’m encouraged to be a teacher for my children and given the materials to support what my girls are learning. As a parent president and board member, I get to have a say in the future education of my children and other children who will go through the program. Centro de la Familia’s Head Start program is an invaluable resource that has helped me connect to my children on a deeper level.
Having the personal connections and support offered to me through home visiting helped me get out of the deep dark hole I was in years ago. A few short years ago I had no idea how to go on, how to move forward and show up everyday for the people in my life, including myself. And now, I get the opportunity to be present in my children’s lives on a new level. We love to play dress-up, cook together, read, swim, sing and dance. We get to be silly and happy. I have the confidence that I don’t know everything and I won’t get everything right, but I do have a team of people I trust to pick me up when I stumble.
Concrete supports are among the five critical protective factors known to prevent child maltreatment and strengthen families. It is my hope that other parents and caregivers who find themselves in a hole, who want to better themselves as parents, or who would like a friend to come sit with them for awhile, remember that there is concrete support here for them. I am forever grateful that it was here for me.
Alexa is from Rifle, Colorado. As a mom to two daughters- an almost one-year-old and four-year-old she is a parent representative on the Home Visiting Investment Task Force and a board member for the Region 8 Head Start Association. She is sharing her lived experiences so that children and families can grow and thrive together. She has a deep understanding of what needs to happen at a community level in order to transform systems so that families get the preventative support they need, having experienced grief and high stress while parenting her young children.
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