Alexis Santiago was first connected to Santa Maria’s Every Child Succeeds (ECS) program while pregnant with her daughter Ava. Before the birth of her daughter, ECS staff visited Alexis at her home to share more about the home-visitation program, which provides community resources for first-time mothers and offers developmental support and education for children age 0-3. Alexis worked with ECS Family Support Worker Barbara Smith for two years before Barbara’s retirement. “I cried when she left,” said Alexis. “I loved her. We had this connection and this bond, and she loved Ava.”
When Ava was born, she suffered an accident during delivery. Ava’s left shoulder was lodged in Alexis’ pelvic, rendering her arm motionless for the first three months of her life, a complication referred to as shoulder dystocia. As a new and worried mother, Alexis confided in Barbara. “Barbara started as a Family Support Worker but left as a friend. She started to become my outlet; I could tell her everything. She was there to offer me so much support and have my back. She also adored Ava and loved working with her.”
In the beginning of Ava’s life, she was delayed in many developmental activities. “Barbara was understanding and would work my daughter through her disability,” said Alexis. Ava, now two years old, has use of her arm but with limited function, and continues to see and occupational therapist.
As a single mother, Alexis has benefitted from the resources and opportunities offered through Santa Maria. “We have been to every outing they’ve had for kids. It’s hard to afford a lot of activities for kids around the holidays and because the ones through ECS are free, I can get Ava out of the house.” Alexis recalls her and her daughter’s recent visit to Parky’s Farm, an annual event hosted by Santa Maria for its Early Childhood Development programs. “She was so happy and into everything. She loved it and I loved seeing her. She doesn’t have a lot of friends her age so seeing her being able to interact with all the kids and watch her play – I was so happy.”
“I feel like we need for nothing,” Alexis said when asked about her experience with the agency, “especially now that I have Katie.” Katie Overcash, Alexis’ Family Support Worker since Barbara’s retirement, has worked closely with Alexis since March of 2018. “I love Katie. She always offers a helping hand whenever I need anything.
Alexis plans to enroll Ava in Santa Maria’s Promoting Our Preschoolers program once Ava graduates from ECS at age three. The family-focused, kindergarten-readiness program works collaboratively with families, schools, and the community through home-visitation program.