Jared was 2 years old, and the pride and joy of Tonya, a 23-year old single mother living in Gilpin Court. When the Partnership for Families first met Tonya and Jared, he sucked the middle fingers of his right hand so much the skin was peeling away. Even worse, the wounds were becoming infected. He tried to talk, and even eat, without removing his fingers from his mouth. Sucking his fingers affected his speech and nutrition; it even affected his socialization. These were not behavior problems. They were developmental issues. Then Tonya secured one of the Partnership’s scholarships for the on-site child care center on the first floor of our building, operated by our collaborative partner, VCU Health Systems.
After a year of attending VCU’s high-quality, accredited preschool, where he received lots of focused care and attention from his teachers, Jared started making observable progress. He began to consistently choose food over fingers, started to verbally express his thoughts, and was making friends with the other toddlers with much greater ease. His mother began to see the differences, too. After an initial period of sporadic and indifferent attendance, Tonya came to understand the importance and value of quality, curriculum-based child care. Soon Jared was attending the VCU-HS Child Care Center every day.
Helping Jared helped Tonya, too. Before Tonya received the child care scholarship for Jared, she took care of him at home, which made it difficult for her to even look for work, much less hold a job. After Jared’s enrollment in the VCU-HS Child Care Center, Tonya was able to become a regular participant in the Partnership’s Nurturing Parenting classes, operated by the Early Childhood Development Initiative, another PFF partner. Tonya learned skills to strengthen her resume and was able to attend job fairs. With the help of The Partnership’s Family Advocate and our partner, Goodwill, Tonya created a plan, and continues to make progress, just like little Jared.