The programs we support help ensure that every child has the opportunity to “outgrow poverty,” and we provide the tools for our partners to facilitate this growth. This includes supporting children in times of family crisis, quality pediatric care, and building brighter futures through early childhood education. Our model of providing goods and services to parents at critical moments in their lives can make all the difference, keeping families together, and reuniting fathers and children. We know that when you support the needs of the whole family, it is often the children who benefit the most, which works to head off the cyclical nature of poverty.
A Mexican immigrant family recently walked through the doors of a GOOD+ Foundation grantee partner Early Head Start (EHS) program in the South Bronx. The mother arrived saying “a man told her they might be able to help her.” She came in with an almost two-year-old little girl and a four-year-old boy. The director of the EHS program noticed that the children looked very tiny for their ages and the children’s clothes were worn and dirty. The EHS family case workers immediately sprang into action. They contacted a local early care center to take the four-year-old into their program and enrolled the little girl in their EHS program. The director offered the mother some food, but she nervously looked down and said they were fine and didn’t need it. But, when the staff brought out some food they were preparing for the other EHS children, the mother and children agreed to have some food and ate everything they were given.
The mother then shared that she had been living with her brother after her husband left them, but her brother moved to Queens and no longer had room for them. She didn’t know anyone at all in the U.S. other than her brother and estranged husband and she had no idea how to help her children. She could also barely read or write. She was supporting her family by selling perfume and bananas at a small stand on the sidewalk in the South Bronx. The EHS staff gave her information on food pantries, housing services, and all the other support services she would be able to access for help. As they met with her, they could see she was starting to feel a small sense of relief and they were building trust with her. The mother then whispered, “Do you have any clothing for my children?” The case worker was so pleased to be able to go to their GOOD+ closet and provide this desperate mother with new clothing for her daughter and son. The children received clean, bright new shirts, pants, pajamas, and shoes, and their eyes lit up when they saw the new clothing. They were also given new books from GOOD+ to keep. The little boy said in Spanish, “this is the first book I have ever had all to myself!” These new clothes and books did more than just meet the immediate needs of this family—they helped give them hope as they work towards greater economic security in their new country.
This is a great example of how helping low-income children through the Early Head Start model really can help change the lives of an entire family by bringing support, access to information and services, and the essential supplies and gear that any child needs to grow and thrive. The GOOD+ items helped the staff build trust with this family and now these children will be getting the high-quality education services they need to forge a better future.