When Deborah landed a job as a customer service agent, the Seattle-area single mom was excited. It meant a steady paycheck and stability after fleeing Angola with her family and escaping challenges in South Africa. She could provide for her 3-year-old daughter Alaynah.
But Deborah soon discovered a downside to her new position: Her relatively modest earnings meant she didn’t qualify for subsidized childcare anymore. While Deborah found an elderly woman in the neighborhood who could watch Alaynah, she soon realized her daughter was missing out on valuable instructional time.
“Alaynah was being watched but not being taught anything. I worried about her not learning new things like she did in daycare.”
Deborah soon learned about a free program engaging 2- and 3-year-old children with books and educational toys. She was skeptical that the program, United Way’s Parent-Child Home Program, could really make a difference. Staff at Congolese Integration Network, a nonprofit that United Way funds to implement Parent-Child Home Program, convinced her to give it a try.
“I have to say that I’m really impressed,” said Deborah. “For starters, Alaynah adores our home visitor, Evelyn. Every time someone knocks on the door, she hopes it’s her.”
Part of the success of the program lies in the unique approach taken to engage a child and her family in their home. The Parent-Child Home Program pairs a family with culturally relevant home visitors—people who share the same values and culture. It’s breaking down barriers for low-income families who often have resettled in King County from another country and for whom their native language is not English.
The learning that occurs during The Parent-Child Home Program doesn’t just stay with the child; they help the parent learn to be their child’s first and best teacher.
“I was teaching her with videos, not toys, and there were some things she was struggling with that I didn’t know,” Deborah said. “Evelyn, our home visitor, has taught me to take my time with Alaynah.”
Deborah is confident Alaynah will be kindergarten-ready when she starts school, thanks in large part, to the Parent-Child Home Program. Alaynah, plus kids 1,300 other families every year, are stepping toward a strong start in kindergarten—thanks to United Way donors who are committed to making sure students graduate in our community.
“I’ve learned what to teach Alaynah and what she needs.”