Parenting: Finding and Being a Support Team

Finding Support for Parenting: Jessica

Jessica pictured with family and friends at the Group Connections activity at Bay Beach. One of the fun activities Family & Childcare Resources of N.E.W. offers to encourage families to get together and have fun.

“I have no family here. It’s just me and my kids with no support team or anyone to talk to,” says Jessica. She did find support when referred to Family & Childcare Resources of N.E.W. and started meeting with Parent Educator, Tera Webb.

A little over a year ago, Jessica got a call from the school saying she needed to come pick up her children because there had been a shooting at the school and someone had been shot 17 times. She picked up her kids and went back to her mother’s home in Chicago where her and the 3 children were living in one bedroom. She packed up their belongings and moved away from what she knew was an unsafe and unhappy environment.

She also left behind a past filled with difficulties including death of a baby, pregnancy loss and her own childhood traumas. “What happened back then is past tense,” says Jessica. “I have been through a lot in my lifetime but I don’t let that affect what I give my kids.”

She did still face some difficulties with continued mental illness, failed birth control, concerns with parenting her children and memories of the past. The death of the baby and mental illness led to a temporary separation from the children which took a toll on Jessica and the children.

With them all together and in a safe place, she tried to make every day together good. “I was loose with the discipline,” she says. “I was trying to make sure they were happy and trying to mend what was broke.”

She had increased parenting concerns. She found help with her parent educator, Tera, who provided home visitation through the supernanny program which is a short-term, goal-driven program to help families address a parenting concern and give them the tools to handle future concerns.

Failed birth control led to an unexpected pregnancy, and Jessica had to stop taking her medication, which led to extra stress and more difficulties. Her son Zaheim, 8, who having problems in school and displaying physical aggressiveness towards his sisters at home. Jessica was working with the school and doctors to improve his experiences but felt like others weren’t listening to her.

Tera worked as an advocate for Jessica and the family with others while helping to address discipline issues at home. Tera made sure Zaheim’s mental health concerns were addressed and worked with school officials to make sure the needs of the family were met and they didn’t fall through the cracks. Tera provided information and resources to help Jessica improve discipline and help with parenting methods.

Jessica says Tera is there to talk to her about anything she has questions about. “She gets resources and information and we come up with a plan,” she says. “She provides structure for me too not just my kids.”

A visit from Tera is one of the highlights of the week with the children rushing towards Tera when she enters the door. “She’s here every week. She knows us,” says Jessica.

Tera has been a support for Jessica but has also helped Jessica be a better support for her children. “My mother wasn’t the support team like I want to be for my kids,” says Jessica.

When baby Roderick came so came increased fears of losing another baby and concerns for Roderick’s health. Jessica began participating in the Parents-as-Teachers program, which is more long term and focuses on many aspects of child development and positive parent/child interactions.

Because of Jessica’s concerns, visits were twice a week at first and Tera brought in support from others including a Public Health Nurse to alleviate Jessica’s concerns. As Jessica gained more confidence as a parent the visits became weekly. Tera’s visits include information about developmental milestones, activities for between viosits, activities for children in the community and parenting resources. Jessica also participates in programs like Group Connect at Family & Childcare Resources of N.E.W. to network with other parents and families.

Tera sees the family on a long path of improved successes. “I’m proud of the relationship we have built together and how Jessica always puts her children first. She has shown so much improvement in happiness and mental health. She shares what she has learned help others with their children.”

Jessica says she tells everyone about the great programming and, of course, Tera at Family and Childcare Resources of N.E.W. She says she can see the better parent she has become after being in this program and hopeful for her children while being their support team. “I want them to experience all the aspects of life I didn’t get to experience.”

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