First 5 and Uplift Family Services have dramatically improved the life of one Santa Clara preschooler’s family.
Enrolled in a Power of Preschool classroom, four-year-old Antonio (not his real name) was on the road to kindergarten when his teacher, Mrs. Hudson, became concerned that he was frequently absent. Worried that Antonio’s family may be having problems, Mrs. Hudson asked the classroom’s Family Partner to check in on them. Power of Preschool’s Family Partners visit the classes weekly to monitor the students’ development, so the Partner, Maria Acosta, an employee from Uplift Family Services, was already familiar with Antonio. Acosta made an appointment to visit Antonio’s family.
At the meeting with Antonio’s family, Acosta learned that he had three older brothers, ranging in age from 6 to 15. She also learned that the family was in crisis. The father was working two jobs to make ends meet, Antonio’s oldest brother, Ernesto was battling leukemia, and the family had severe financial problems. Without a car at her disposal, the mom would load the children onto a bus for the two- to three-hour bus rides to Stanford to get medical treatment for Ernesto, meaning Antonio missed a lot of preschool. Acosta asked the family if she could work with the family to get them some much-needed help. They agreed.
As a Family Partner, Acosta began researching services for which the family qualified, and she continued to meet with them weekly throughout the process.
Acosta learned that the family could apply for state Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits that would provide much-needed additional medical help for Ernesto and some financial support for the family. In a matter of a few months, the family learned that they had been approved, and immediately began seeing an improvement in their lives. Antonio and two of his brothers were able to keep up with their classes and stay on track for success.
The First 5 Family Partner continued to meet with the family on a weekly basis, and over a nine-month period, noticed that the mother went from being completely stressed by her family’s situation to a “smiling mom.” At one subsequent visit Acosta learned that with the financial support they were receiving from the SSI program, the family had been able to purchase a used van that they could use for Ernesto’s many medical appointments.
Acosta’s support of the family continues and she reports that the family continues to do well, and Antonio now attends kindergarten regularly. The First 5 program helped Antonio and his family through a difficult period of crisis.