Kidango parents and staff share their stories about the impact of family-centered infant & toddler child care
Robert lives in Oakland and is a father to three sons aged 5, 3 and 1. His eldest, Robert Jr., is a kindergartener who attended the preschool program at Kidango’s Castlemont Center. His middle child, Donte, is currently enrolled at Castlemont’s Head Start program having recently moved from the Early Head Start program. Robert credits the program for Donte’s strong social and emotional development – Robert has nicknamed him ‘Braveheart’ because of his ability to enter any play or classroom setting and interact with the other children. The program has also helped Donte with language and vocabulary. According to Robert, “My kids love their time at Kidango so much so that they often don’t want to leave when I come to pick them up!”. Robert plans on enrolling his youngest son, William, as soon as he is 18 months old after seeing that a high-quality program has had on his other children.
Fauzia is a master teacher at Kidango’s Marie Kaiser Center, where she works in the Early Head Start (EHS) program. Of all the children she has taught, one boy in particular stands out in her mind for the incredible impact the program had on him and his family. Ricardo was the son of two deaf parents and was very behind in language and speech. He joined the EHS program when he was 2 years old and his grandma joined the orientation to act as a translator between his parents and the staff. His first assessment after 30 days showed he was well behind in all language areas. Fauzia worked hard bring him out of his shell and encourage him to speak. She also texted regularly with his parents to keep them informed of what they were working on. A second assessment three months later found Ricardo to be the best-performing child for language and communication out of the four that Fauzia worked with. “I’ve never seen such rapid progress,” said Fauzia. Ricardo is scheduled to start preschool at Kidango’s Sharon Jones Center on April 2nd, and is much better prepared than when he started the program at Marie Kaiser.
Lissete is a parent of two young children enrolled at Kidango’s Castlemont Center in Oakland. Natalia is 4 and joined the Head Start program when the center opened two years ago. Juan Carlos is 3 and joined the Early Head Start program when he was 18 months old. Both children have received support for speech delays and have shown significant improvement since being enrolled. Lissete has developed strong relationships with the teachers and family advocates, and has been able to reinforce what they learn at school back at home. Being able to find a program for Juan Carlos was particularly important – a previous negative experience at a daycare when he was just a few months old meant Lissete quit working to take care of him. It was when she saw how well Natalia was doing at Castlemont, including the support and care provided by the teachers, that she felt comfortable enrolling Juan Carlos.
Johnisha is a lead teacher at Kidango’s Castlemont Center, where her son Jayceon first attended the Early Head Start program and now attends the Head Start program. His development has really benefited from being in a high-quality program, with noticeable gains in his speech and his ability to focus. Where before he would struggle to sit still during activities, he can now pay attention throughout. He also benefited from the health screenings provided through the EHS program, through which he was able to get an eye exam and glasses. For Johnisha, being able to leave her son in a safe and nurturing environment has allowed her to work and take care of other family issues as needed. She has seen the impact that the program has on numerous other children too.
Danella is an associate teacher at Kidango’s REACH Ashland Youth Center in San Leandro. It’s a program that is close to her heart; Danella’s brother was in an Early Head Start program when he was young, which really helped with his speech delay and getting his development back on a par with his peers. Danella understands just how crucial the first three years of a child’s life are, and the trust that parents put in child care workers. A big part of her role as an associate teacher is building relationships with families and providing resources to them, much in the same way that her brother and family received support. This essential function of the program helps to support the role of parents as a child’s first teacher. She has conversations with parents every day who remark on the impact that the child care program is having on their child’s development, as well as seeing herself the progress the children make in the classroom.