Fleeing domestic violence and a longtime abusive relationship, Lorie didn’t know where to turn for help. She recently had moved herself and her two kids into her cousin’s one-bedroom apartment, which was also home to her cousin’s two children. To make matters more challenging, her high-energy, highly vocal son had just been diagnosed as having Autism and ADHD.
When she sat down to complete a Head Start application, she was emotional, exhausted, and embarrassed by her son’s behavior. She broke down. Before talking with Lorie about the resources available to assist her, her Head Start family support specialist began by simply giving her a moment to breathe.
“I made a connection with her son in a positive way,” said Tracey Seymour, Head Start Family Support Specialist. “Mom felt the need to apologize for her son's behavior. At this point, I made sure she knew she didn't have to apologize. Her son was not hurting anyone or himself and he was just expressing himself.”
As Tracey worked with Lorie, they came up with a plan that not only included the reason she walked in the door- childcare- but also assistance with housing, food, clothing, and finances. The Early Education Division was able to provide the assistance Lorie needed that included SNAP and AHCCCS applications, information about House of Refuge and New Leaf housing programs, and One Small Step Clothes Cabin.
Lorie was provided with a DES Subsidy application along with detailed information about how to apply.
Within a week, Lorie was able to obtain a room at a domestic violence shelter. A week after that, she has been approved for a DES Subsidy and was successful in applying for AHCCCS and SNAP benefits.
Lorie later checked in with her family support specialist to relay more good news. She said she had contacted all the recommended programs and they were, in turn, able to offer more support. She was provided with free professional clothing for interviews and work, along with clothing for her children. Her next step was to hear about transitional housing through the New Leaf program.
“There was a new sense of confidence in her voice and a hope for the future,” said Tracey. “I feel so privileged to be able to work with Head Start families assisting and supporting them and share laughter, and at times tears, with our families. We are here for our Head Start families during their times of need and are ready to provide support to get them connected to the resources they need to thrive.”
With the care she received, not only had Lorie found support and resources, but she also found her own strength and determination, and a new view of the future. Lorie’s experience is just one example of how the Early Education Division of the Maricopa County Human Services Department brings help - and hope - to the families it serves.
For more information about the Early Education division and its programs, visit Maricopa.gov/EED.