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Region Stories

These stories illustrate how early childhood programs and services funded by First Things First make a difference for young children and families in communities across Arizona.

Family resource center empowers Phoenix boy to find independence

mom-in-class-with-kidsFelicitas Padron of Phoenix assumed that her children’s learning started with their kindergarten teacher. The mother of three learned otherwise at the Roosevelt Early Childhood Family Resource Center in Phoenix.

With her then 2-year-old son, Joel, and her infant daughter, Padron began participating in the many free parent education classes that aimed to help families prepare their kids for kindergarten. The family resource center, which is funded by First Things First, helps parents fully realize their role as their child’s first teacher.

Padron was especially concerned for Joel, who had suffered from meningitis, which can cause long-term developmental delays. She had been told over and over about the many things he would not be able to do.

“I didn’t know how to help him because I didn’t know if he was capable,” Padron said.

Through the programs at the family resource center, Padron learned low-cost ways to support her children’s learning at home. While the two toddlers participated in learning sessions, mom found a Women’s Support Group at the family resource center, where another mom of a child with special needs wisely advised her not to underestimate Joel. Padron started to set higher expectations for him.

At first this meant little things like not jumping in to help him with puzzles. She beamed with pride as he completed them without help. Milestones such as mastering tying his shoes followed and all the while he was developing critical skills like self-esteem and responsibility.

Today, Joel is in the third grade and performs above grade level in reading, writing and math. He takes responsibility to turn in his homework and is even reading the Harry Potter series.

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