Being a parent is a difficult role. There are a lot of unique challenges that come along with raising a child. Often times parents are faced with these challenges alone or with little or no support. Enrolling in Riverbend Head Start has a unique advantage over other school readiness options. Each family is assigned a Family Advocate. The Family Advocate (FA) provides ongoing supportive contact through weekly or monthly home visits. The FA supports parents with resources, health needs, nutrition, child development activities, parent education and goal setting.
I would like to share the story of one parent who has really embodied the mission of Riverbend Head Start. Her story should be an inspiration to any parent wanting to take a step in a new direction to build a brighter future for themselves and their children.
Meet Kasia, single mom of Kayden. She moved to the Alton area and heard about the Head Start Program from fliers she received in the mail. Kayden has been in Head Start for two years. While Kayden was in school, Kasia set a goal to become a nurse. She recently graduated from Lewis and Clark Community College with her nursing degree, while working two jobs. When asked why she chose the field of nursing she responded, “My sister became a nurse, and I learned more about it. While giving birth to Kayden, I saw how compassionate the nurses were. It made me feel so good, so I knew I wanted to make others feel that way, too.” Kasia feared failure and the time it would take away from her spending with Kayden. Kasia credits her parents for teaching her the importance of education and strong work ethic. She also is grateful for her Family Advocate, Shani Warren, for unconditional support. She knew she wanted a brighter future for her and her son. She said, “We won’t have to struggle. I will be financially secure, and my son won’t have to worry about where his next meal will come from, or want for anything.”
When asked what advice she would give to other parents who are wanting to set a goal for change she said, “The hardest part is starting. Don’t think about it, just start. Kids are our biggest motivator, make a list of goals and work through that list. Take it day by day.”
Kasia is already seeing how her accomplishment is inspiring her son. “When he sees me with my stethoscope on he says, ‘Mommy I want to be a doctor!’ It is teaching him good values, and the importance of going to school and work.”
Kasia’s next goal is to pass her nursing boards. She has already received two job offers.
Amy Cornell is a Family Engagement Specialist at Riverbend Head Start and Family Services. She has been with the organization for nearly 10 years and started out as a family Advocate when she was first hired.