Being a parent is challenging. It can be even more so without a strong support system of other parents to share experiences, ideas and insight.
Brianna Smith, a mother of three girls, learned how to create lasting relationships thanks to the home visiting staff at the South King County Family Resource Center (SKCFRC).
Brianna has a developmental disability that makes it difficult for her to connect with others. Before the birth of her third daughter, Abby, Brianna took part in Children’s Home Society of Washington's Early Head Start (EHS) prenatal services, and both are now enrolled in the Early Head Start home visiting program.
The EHS home visiting program includes weekly home visits that strengthen families by providing activities that build parent-child bonds and promote healthy development.
Brianna’s Early Head Start home visitor said that when they first met, Brianna was very introverted and untrusting of others. However, as their visits progressed, Brianna began to open up.
“The Early Head Start program provided kind of a refresher course in parenting for me,” said Brianna. “I get to interact with other parents, and my youngest daughter gets to play with other children her age.”
To get her more involved socially, Brianna’s home visitor encouraged her to attend the EHS group social that meets weekly at a nearby YMCA. At the YMCA, Brianna attended many of the parent-child playgroups.
“I enrolled in a Zumba fitness class and lost weight, quit smoking, and made several friends,” Brianna said. For the first time in her life, Brianna connected socially with people who weren’t part of her family. Today, Brianna is a volunteer assistant Zumba instructor at the YMCA.
She regularly attends EHS family night activities with her partner, Mike, and her daughters—Leta, 10, Yuna, 8, and Abby, now 2½—and as Abby prepares to enter Head Start, she’s developing on track so she will be prepared for her first day of kindergarten in a couple of years.
“Brianna has come a long way since walking in our doors and has really excelled,” said Melanie Krevitz, program manager for the SKCFRC. “She proved to herself that anything is possible.”