Tag Archives: early head start

La Historia de Lorena

Lorena and her family. The three children have all been students at Escalera Head Start.

De izquierda a derecha: Cándido (padre); Jennifer, de 7 años; Ximena, de 9 años; Lorena; Alexis, de 4 años. Lorena sostiene el certificado de premio de Alexis por juegos de rompecabezas.

English Version

“Tengo tres hijos que han sido estudiantes en Escalera Early Childhood. Mis hijas estuvieron en el programa hace un par de años. Mi hijo comenzó en Early Head Start de Escalera cuando tenía dos años y ahora está en la clase UPK. Comenzará el jardín de infantes en el otoño.

Todos mis hijos no son tan tímidos como antes. Mejoraron en el aprendizaje de la escritura, en el aprendizaje del abecedario y en la participación en todos los libros que leyeron.  

Yo también mejoré como padre. Escalera me ayudó a hablar con mi hijo cuando estaba llorando, y pronto dejó de llorar. Me ayudaron a ayudar a mi hijo a compartir cosas, recoger el desorden, comer, vestirse, ir al baño y cruzar la calle cuando van al parque a divertirse, el equipo de Escalera me ayudó con todas estas cosas, me ayudó a ver cuánto podía ayudar a mis hijos a hacer.  

Escalera ofrece muchas maneras de apoyarnos con la crianza de los hijos, y yo aproveché muchas de ellas. Estoy en el Comité de Padres, lo cual decidí hacer para poder retribuir al programa, organizar eventos y tener experiencia en un comité como este. Participé en las excursiones de la clase Health Bucks al mercado de agricultores, donde podía elegir frutas y verduras saludables para mi familia, y en las actividades del aula. Disfruté participando en las actividades de la clase ayudando a hacer las piñatas para cada una de las clases.  

Una cosa que estoy muy contenta de haber hecho, fue asistir a ParentCorps, que Escalera ofrece en el centro. ParentCorps me ayudó a ser más paciente con mis hijos, a ayudarlos a controlar sus rabietas y su ira. Aprendes muchas maneras de criar a tu hijo de una manera diferente a cuando creciste. 

¡Mis hijas están en 2º y 3º grado ahora y les va muy bien! El programa los preparó para el jardín de infantes, y ahora sé que mi hijo estará preparado y listo para hacerlo bien. Los maestros ayudan hablando mucho con los niños, haciéndoles saber que son adultos y que van a cambiar de escuela y de maestro. Ayudan a los niños a escribir su nombre, a saber los números y el abecedario, y a compartir cosas.  

Escalera es una muy buena escuela, con buenos profesores que ayudan mucho a los niños. Son muy pacientes y no tienes que preocuparte de que te juzguen. Simplemente te ayudan a ser el mejor padre que puedes ser para tus hijos.”


Lorena’s Story

From left to right: Candido (dad); 7-year-old Jennifer; 9-year-old Ximena; Lorena; 4-year-old Alexis. Lorena is holding Alexis’ certificate of award for puzzle games.

“I have three children who have been students at Escalera Early Childhood. My daughters were in the program a couple of years ago. My son started in Escalera Early Head Start when he was two years old and now he is in the UPK [universal pre-kindergarten] class. He will be starting kindergarten in the fall.  

All my children are not as shy as they were. They improved in learning to write, learning their ABCs, and participating in every book they read.  

I improved as a parent too. Escalera helped me talk to my son when he was crying, and he soon stopped crying. They helped me to help my son share things, pick up clutter, eat, get dressed, go to the bathroom, and cross the street when they go to the park to enjoy themselves. The Escalera team helped me with all these things, helped me see how much I could help my children do.  

Escalera offers many ways to support us with parenting, and I took advantage of many of them. I am on the Parent Committee, which I decided to do so I could give back to the program, organize events, and have experience being on a committee like this. I participated in Health Bucks class field trips to the farmer’s market, where I could choose healthy fruits and vegetables for my family, and in the classroom activities. I enjoyed participating in the class activities of helping to make the piñatas for each of the classes.  

One thing I am really glad I did was attend ParentCorps, which Escalera offers at the center. ParentCorps helped me to be more patient with my children, to help them control their tantrums and their anger. You learn many ways to raise your child in a different way than when you grew up. 

My daughters are in second and third grade now and doing so well! The program prepared them for kindergarten, and now I know my son will be prepared and ready to do well. The teachers help by talking to the children a lot, letting them know that they are grown up, and that they are going to change schools and teachers. They help the children write their name, know the numbers and ABCs, and share things.  

Escalera is a very good school, with good teachers who help the children a lot. They are very patient and you don’t have to worry they will judge you. They just help you be the best parent you can be for your children.”  

Silvia’s Story

Silvia and daughter, ParentChild+

I grew up in Queens with very strict parents. They are immigrants from Ecuador and are very “old school.” They had high expectations for me and my two sisters. When I got pregnant at 19, they were devastated. It was very hard for me because I was only in my second year in college, and on top of that, I had my family judging me.

It was the middle of my spring semester, and I ended up on academic probation with a 1.5 GPA. I had been studying to become a social worker, but my low GPA rendered me ineligible for my program. It wasn’t long before I just dropped out.

When my daughter was born, I loved her so much, but I didn’t have the motivation to do much—with her or with myself. I didn’t read to her. I didn’t really play with her. And I didn’t develop a bond with her. For myself, now that I was out of college and had lost eligibility for my program, I didn’t know what direction to take.

My wake-up call came when my daughter was close to two years old. The doctor evaluated her at a well visit and told me what I already knew in my heart: My daughter had a speech delay. She was not saying any words—she was just pointing—and she wasn’t hearing when I called her name. My heart sank as I wondered: What am I doing as a mother for her development?

At that moment, I knew I had to do everything for her that I possibly could. I regretted not doing that sooner, but all I could do was move forward. I enrolled her in Early Intervention services for her speech. I started reading to her. I tried to engage more. But I reached a point I knew I had to do more. I just didn’t know how.

I looked for help on the Internet and came across The Child Center of NY. I contacted the Woodside Early Head Start program to see if I could enroll my daughter. They were full, but they gave me the number for The Child Center’s Early Head Start program in Astoria, which had spots available. I enrolled her there and found out we also were eligible for the ParentChild+ program, which includes free books and toys and guidance on using them. My daughter was receiving speech therapy at the time, too, and with all this help, I saw her progress right before my eyes.

ParentChild+ has this whole curriculum that makes you confident you’re doing everything possible for your child. We enrolled in March 2020, right when COVID hit, so our visits with our home visitor were virtual. At first I thought, “No baby wants to be just there on a screen,” but it was very helpful. The program includes a parent handbook to check off milestones for every age. I could see that some I could check off and some were not fully checked and I could work on those.

The guidance I got about using the toys and books helped me a lot, especially as a first-time mom and pretty young. I didn’t know any better how to raise a child. It was very difficult. But our home visitor guided me through using the toys and books, explaining the significance of each one. One toy was magnetic blocks with different colors, and another was a shape sorter. I learned to talk to my daughter in ways that would support her development while she was playing, identifying the colors and shapes. She loved the books, too, especially Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed, which exposed her to numbers and counting, and Are You My Mother? She loved learning about the different animals. She still likes those books a lot!

In the beginning, it was hard. My daughter wouldn’t respond; she’d make sounds, but no words. I would speak to her in both languages, English and Spanish, and I grew very concerned that she would have to be in special ed and continue to have problems.

Silvia and daughter at a partyIt took a whole year of services, but eventually, one day to another, she just started speaking, saying a couple words and clearly grasping lots of different things.

She’s 3 now. Her last day of speech therapy was just before her third birthday. She’s speaking well in both languages. She’s in a 3K class in preschool and gets along with the other kids and is doing well in all developmental areas. She won’t need special education.

If I hadn’t received these services, I don’t know where I would be. The Child Center helped me with the how.

Now I get to help other families in the same way.

Throughout my college journey, I was always interest in social services or education. When the position of family worker opened up at Early Head Start, Astoria—the program that my daughter and I were enrolled in—I decided to apply. I’d gotten along with everyone here as a parent—everyone is so sweet and friendly!—that I knew I would enjoy being part of the team. Besides my interest in the field of early childhood education, I felt that because I was in the program and struggled so much throughout my motherhood journey with these new things in my life, I could help others. I’m not the only one to go through these struggles. There are a lot of other first-time mothers having even more difficulty than me. That motivated me to where I’m working at now.

As a family worker, I help families who are having needs and connect them with resources, whether that’s cash assistance, physicals, dentals … anything a family might be struggling with. This is important to me, as I got help from the program in this way, too. My family worker helped me with food bags, diapers, wipes … a lot of different things when I needed them most.

I also work with families on goal setting and determining what steps they need to take to achieve their goals. And I work on recruiting, which isn’t hard since I can speak from experience!

As for my personal goals, I’m now back in college. I went from a 1.5 GPA to a 3.2. I pushed myself, did all assignments, studied for midterms and finals, and told myself I have to get at least 3.0—and I did it, thanks to a lot of support that I received.

I’m pursuing a degree in psychology and my goal is to earn my MSW.

In addition to my college classes, I’m taking the Family Development Credential (FDC) program to gain a deeper understanding of my new role.

Working hard with my daughter, I saw the progress at the end. Things didn’t start out the way I would have wanted them to—much like I didn’t intend for my college years to include a 1.5 GPA—but, with hard work and a lot of support, I learned that a rough path still can lead to the goal you were pursuing all along.

La Historia de Melinda (in Spanish and English)

Scroll down for English version

Hola, mi nombre es Melinda. Tengo dos hijos se llaman Emely (12 años) and Erick (un año). Soy participante de las familias del Child Center de NY y estoy enormemente agradecida con el centro por todo el soporte que ellos me han dado. Perdí mi esposo cuando el menor de mis hijos tenía 6 semanas debido al COVID. Mi cuñada me recomendó el centro y el Child Center de NY me ha ayudado mucho.

Cuando empecé en el centro, les conté mi historia, y basado en lo que les conte ellos me conectaron con otras fuentes y gracias a esas recomendaciones ahora estoy recibiendo terapia con Nicole Stroke. Nicole y mi trabajadora social y mi trabajadora de casa nos han apoyado mucho a mí y a mi familia de muchas maneras distintas. Mi experiencia con el COVID ha sido muy fuerte, desde la perdida de mi esposo todo ha sido muy difícil, el aceptar la realidad para mi hija y para mí no ha sido nada fácil. Mi trabajadora de casa, Eliana, me llama dos veces a la semana para hacer seguimiento conmigo, hablamos de mis hijos, de mi familia y ella siempre me pregunta si hay algún cambio desde la última vez que hablamos, me siento bien cuando hablo con ella.

El centro me ha ayudado con fondos monetarios, comida, juguetes, y libros. Erick es parte de los niños participantes en nuestro programa de Early Head Start en Astoria. Erick estaba teniendo problemas con sus habilidades de movimiento finas, y Eliana me apoyo dándome actividades para ayudarlo con sus habilidades de movimiento. El programa también me dio guianza en como ayudarle a el con su aprendizaje y yo se que el por medio de esto estará listo y preparado para tener éxito el la escuela preescolar y kinder cuando llegue su momento.

Estoy muy agradecida con el centro porque ellos me han estado asistiendo vigorosamente y siempre logran hacerme sentir bien. Perder un ser querido es duro, especialmente si es su esposo. Mi hija de 12 años se ha visto muy afectada por la pérdida de su padre y a mí me duele profundamente el verle así, lo único que nos da consuelo son todas las memorias que su padre dejo en ella durante estos años. Una vez mas gracias a este centro y sus diferentes fuentes a las que ellos me han conectado. Mi hija ahora está recibiendo terapia, a pesar que ella siente que la terapia no es necesaria; yo sé que será una gran ayuda y a largo plazo beneficioso para ella. La primera vez que ella recibió terapia ella se sintió bien y yo también estoy tratando de apoyarla con la terapia y con la ayuda que estoy recibiendo le he dicho que tenemos que ser fuertes para poder superar nuestra perdida. Mi hija siempre esta preocupada y piensa mucho que pasara con nosotros ya que mi esposo era el proveedor en nuestra familia, pero con la ayuda del Child Center de NY hemos sido conectados con otros programas que nos están ayudando con la parte monetaria de la renta y también tenemos cupones de alimentos.

El Child Center de NY a sido una enorme ayuda para mi familia y para mi y estoy sumamente agradecida.


Melinda’s Story

Hello, my name Melinda. I have two kids, Emely, who is 12, and Erick, who just turned one. I lost my husband to COVID when my youngest baby was 6 weeks old. My sister-in-law recommended me to the Early Head Start program at The Child Center of NY.

In addition to providing comprehensive child development and family support services through our Early Head Start program in Astoria, The Child Center supplied the family with toys and books, as well as food and financial assistance.

When I enrolled Erick in the program, I told them my story, and based on what I told them, they connected me to other resources. Thanks to those recommendations, I am now receiving therapy with Nicole Stroke through The Child Center. Nicole and our Early Head Start family worker and home visitor have been supporting my family and me in various ways.

My experience with COVID has been hard. Since the loss of my husband, it’s been very difficult for my daughter and me to adjust to reality. Eliana, my home visitor, calls me twice a week to follow up with me and to talk about my son and my family. I always look forward to her call.

The Child Center has helped me with monetary funds, food, toys, and books, and with Erick’s education. Erick is a participant in the Early Head Start program in Astoria. He was having a hard time with his fine motor skills, and Eliana provided extra activities to support those skills. They also guide me in supporting Erick’s learning, and I know he will be prepared to succeed in preschool and in kindergarten when the time comes.

I am very grateful to The Child Center because they have been helping me unwaveringly, and they manage to always meet my needs and make me feel good. To lose a loved one, it’s hard, especially if it’s your husband. My daughter has been really affected by it; she has been suffering because of the loss of her dad, and it hurts me deeply to see her like that. What makes us feel better are the memories that her dad had built with her along the years. She was resistant to therapy at first, but I know she is benefiting from it, and it will be a big help for her down the line. The first time she had therapy she felt better, and also the support that I have been receiving has lessened her anxiety. My daughter is always worrying and thinking about our future because my husband was the family provider, but with the help of The Child Center of NY, I have been connected to other programs that are currently helping me with the rent and getting food stamps.

The Child Center of NY has been an enormous help for me and for my family, and I am very thankful.

Editor’s Note: You can help families like Melinda’s by making a year-end donation to support our programs, or donating to our holiday toy drive, through which 100% of donations go toward purchasing a gift for a child whose family is struggling. Every donation makes a difference. 

Staff Spotlight: Q&A with Alondra Santiago, Early Head Start Home Visitor

Alondra with her client family, through Early Head Start

A linchpin of our Early Head Start program, home visitors play a crucial role in helping clients strengthen the parent-child bond and increase school readiness where it begins: the home. They work with low-income families with babies, toddlers, and pregnant women, using the ParentChild+ home visiting model and curriculum. These dedicated professionals show parents how they can help their children learn, grow, reach developmental milestones, and feel confident and safe.

Alondra Santiago has served as a home visitor at The Child Center of NY for three years — and wouldn’t have it any other way.

Alondra with her client family, through Early Head Start

Alondra (left) with clients Isaías and his mom Rosalba

How did you get involved in this line of work? Continue reading

Photo of the Week: “We Are Here as a Program to Support Her”

When Rosalba, mom to 11-month-old Isaias, learned about The Child Center’s Early Head Start program in Astoria, she worried her son wouldn’t be eligible because he has Down syndrome. Home Visitor Alondra Santiago assured Rosalba that we work with all kinds of families and are here as a program to support her. With excitement, Rosalba enrolled Isaias immediately. One of their goals: to strengthen Isaias’ oral-motor skills while helping him build connections between the right and left sides of the brain so that he can blow out the candles on his first birthday cake. In this photo, Alondra perfectly captures the strong bond and happiness in this family.

Jessica’s Story

Jessica and her youngest child, Yadiel, at Early Head Start

I had my first child when I was 18 years old. I was living with my parents. It was a bad situation from the start, but it was after the birth of my second son, Anthony, that my parents really gave me their back. I took my kids and moved out of the house.

I got married and had two more kids — my daughter Marie and my son Yadiel — but my husband left me soon after Yadiel’s birth. He was born at 25 weeks and needed surgery when he was just a year old, and it turned out Marie needed early intervention services for physical therapy.

I contacted The Child Center because I was trying to get a little bit of help. I was thinking I needed help getting to appointments and things like that. But the kind of help I ended up getting was very different — and very good for all of us.

I met with a woman named Maria and was surprised to be meeting at a school. Only my oldest was in school, in kindergarten. I never thought to put my kids in school earlier than that. Maria told me that I could send my three-year-old, Anthony, to Early Head Start, but I didn’t want to. So Maria said they could send a teacher to my home. I started to like it. I saw that Anthony was learning more and more. I decided to send him to the center to learn with the other children, and I started my daughter there when she was two and a half. It made such a difference! With my oldest, who never went to preschool, it was hard for him in kindergarten. He had trouble learning, counting, being with other kids. He wouldn’t talk to the other children.

I thought at first that two and a half was young to start school, but when I saw my daughter in the classroom, I knew I made the right decision. I saw her talking a lot, sharing, and getting along with other kids. She was learning so much. I know she will not have a problem when she gets to kindergarten. Now my son Anthony is at The Child Center’s Head Start/EarlyLearn in Corona, and he had a rougher start, but he is doing great now, too.

Being a part of The Child Center was good not only for my kids, but also for me. I don’t like to talk about myself, but the teachers at Corona give me so much support. They ask what’s going on and help me with parenting. When Anthony was tantrumming a lot, they showed me how to give him a time-out so he can calm himself down and we can work it out.

At Early Head Start, the family service manager, Stephanie, runs a group called Personal Best to help with parenting and building a social network for the parents. I got to hear other moms’ stories, and I was surprised when some moms said my story gave them motivation. We talked about how we were raised, and how we can do differently. In my house growing up, there was a lot of slapping. Through the group, I learned even though I did not have the ideal childhood, my mother still loves me; and I have the power to break any parenting cycles that I do not want to continue. I learned how to be patient and work out conflicts. I know I was able to become a better parent and person because of this group. I feel happy — like I learned how to be a mom.


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