While talking to a friend, 31-year-old Kayla Weaver was introduced to Santa Maria’s Every Child Succeeds (ECS) program, which provides comprehensive home visiting services for families from low-income backgrounds to optimize child health and development. Kayla, a mother of two young sons, was excited to learn about the resources and learning activities available from ECS and decided to give it a try.
Working first with former ECS Family Support Worker, Jasma Warner and then Emily Ross, Kayla’s current ECS Family Support Worker, Kayla was able to develop parenting skills, improve child health for her two sons, Daylin-3 and Kai-1, as well as create a stimulating and nurturing home environment. Kayla was also able to obtain free diapers through Santa Maria’s partnership with Sweet Cheeks Diaper Bank.
Kayla said that Jasma and Emily provided much needed emotional support while also providing learning activities for the children. Her home visitors helped her get benefits through Hamilton County like SNAP benefits as well as baby supplies through Hamilton County Job and Family Services’ Prevention/Retention/Contingency program.
Thanks to ECS’s evidence-based home visiting models, Jasma and Emily were able to work closely with Kayla and her sons, and they were able to get both boys a diagnosis through Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. Daylin was diagnosed with autism and a developmental disability and Kai was diagnosed with Laryngomalacia, which is a birth defect of the voice box. Kai also had severe sleep apnea and had to be connected to continuous oxygen early on in life. Kayla is determined that these diagnoses will not slow the boys down or hinder their education. Kai will be having surgery in April to improve his diagnosis and both of her sons are currently receiving therapeutic services from a reputable agency.
Kayla and Daylin recently transitioned from ECS to Santa Maria’s Promoting Our Preschoolers (POP) program, where they work with Regine Gordon, a POP Family Advocate who has been with Santa Maria for over 30 years. The POP program provides critical home-based visits to families with children ages 3 to 5 to ensure children are ready for kindergarten physically, emotionally, and behaviorally.
Kayla and Regine work together to help Daylin improve his fine and gross motor skills, learn his letters, letter sounds, and numbers, as well as counting and rhyme. Daylin is learning to identify feelings and how to use language to express those feelings. Regine recently gave Daylin an Amazon Fire tablet, made possible by a grant from the PNC Foundation, so he can start to do learning activities. Regine and Kayla are currently working on getting Daylin into a school with an IEP that will fully meet his needs.
In addition to meeting milestones with her son in POP, Kayla is working to improve herself and her situation as well. She was able to go back to school in Dohn Community High School’s 22 Plus Program and receive her high school diploma, which will help her better provide for her family. She was able to get the transmission fixed in her car with the help of funds from Hamilton County Job and Family Services’ Prevention/Retention/Contingency program so she could have transportation to her part-time job with Christ Hospital. Regine is now helping Kayla work on her application to start school for mortuary science. “My dreams are to eventually become a home buyer and to possibly take a career up as a mortician or forensics investigator,” Kayla said, and she is well on her way to making those dreams come true.
Kayla is a formidable woman who is determined to achieve her goals, not only for herself, but also for her children. She is grateful for the support she has received from Santa Maria and considers it not just a program, but extended family. Kayla and her family have a bright future ahead of them!