By Tyesha S.
In June 2012 – at age 20 – I found myself four months pregnant. I was at a loss as to what to do and wasn’t sure where to turn. Though I had some support from members of my family, my mom hadn’t been a good role model for parenting, and I knew I didn’t want to be the parent that she was. Further, I was homeless and had also recently lost my job working at Safeway as a courtesy clerk and assistant to the master baker. I was really nervous and confused.
At the time, my youngest brother was attending child care located in the same facility as Healthy Babies Project. I thought it might be a good idea to learn more about their services and programs.
From the onset, the staff was kind and respectful. They also seemed to be very interested in me and the well-being of my unborn child. I nervously signed up for the Teen Parent Empowerment Program, although I was not sure what to expect. I was then introduced to my HBP Family Support Worker, who explained the HBP services. In particular, the project’s home visitation services were hard for me to understand since at the time I didn’t have a permanent place to call home.
Visits Continued … Wherever I Might Be
Nevertheless, my family support worker was extremely patient and always willing to work with me. She helped me to develop a family action plan which outlined the steps I wanted to work on while in the program. At the top of my list was housing, followed by employment and education. Together, we began seeking housing resources so that arrangements would be in place before the baby arrived in November 2012.
To my surprise, my son had his own plan and made his debut 14 weeks early – in August. Born at 26 weeks, he was so tiny and fragile. Yet in spite of his prematurity, I was happy and excited that he was okay.
At the same time, pressure was building. I faced the stress of no job, no money to support my son, and no stable place to live. My child was in a medical crisis and I had no experience with a premature babies. It was a crucial juncture in my life – my baby was sick and I didn’t know how to navigate my way through the system although I knew he needed so many resources.
But I was able to figure out how to get help through my own research and with help from various case managers at the Healthy Babies Project. Throughout this period the HBP Family Support Worker visited me and educated me in my home, wherever it happened to be that week – United Medical Center, Children’s Hospital, Georgetown University Hospital, Hospital for Sick Children, DC General Shelter – and even now where I am currently living at the New Beginnings Shelter for Families. She persisted in continuing to meet me wherever I was.
HBP Was There for the Long-Term
I am appreciative of HPB’s flexibility and resources (housing, education and empowerment) which truly made a difference in my life and the life of my son. My son has grown to be an amazing big guy who is now thriving in spite of being a preemie at birth. My Family Support Worker still visits us in the home, now focusing on the practical matters of mothering, parenting, and strengthening our little family. The program also supports my dreams of a getting a better job and continuing my education by connecting me to training. I am planning to attend the Special Police Officer security training.
Our relationship with HBP has spanned almost two years. Today, my son and I have a support network of people at Healthy Babies Project who really unconditionally care about our well-being. As a single parent, I am more confident and smarter in raising my son. As an individual, I am empowered.
Both TPEP and the HBP Home Visitation workers stayed by me during a critical time in my life. They didn’t give up afterwards, either. They continued to visit me in the home and provide support to make sure my son is healthy and that we were working out our family action plan for a better life.
Because of that, I have not given up either. Thank you, HBP.
Healthy Babies Project has become a HFA affiliate (Home Families America) as a means of providing home visitation services to more at-risk, overburdened D.C. families thereby improving birth outcomes, child and maternal health, and access to medical care. Learn more.