As Jason turned age 2, he started getting good at running. So when his mom took him to a friend’s house, he found himself exploring the house and backyard to see where his little legs could take him. He never noticed his mom slipping out—and never returning.
As night approached, he wanted his mom. The friend tried to get ahold of his mom, but she was nowhere to be found. After a day, Jason’s grandmother, Beth, got a call and picked him up. He was inconsolable.
Overwhelmed Grandmother Finds Hope
Beth, age 65, lived on a fixed income in the west valley raising two other grandchildren. She took Jason into her home. She lived on a tight budget and had difficulty dealing with his acting out behaviors from grief.
She heard about Catholic Charities Westside Head Start program and enrolled Jason in the Early Head Start program. After two years, Jason graduated into the Head Start program for ages 4 and 5 year olds.
He continued to have behavioral problems and cried a lot. Beth didn’t want him to start out his academic career with behavioral problems so she started working hard to help him. Westside Head Start referred Beth to parenting classes and training for CPR and Closing the Achievement Gap, which helps parents support their child’s academic performance.
Through the trainings, Beth learned how to communicate, set consistent boundaries, stay on a schedule and other tips for helping Jason and her two other grandchildren feel secure and safe. Slowly, Jason’s behavior started to improve at home and in the classroom.
Another big change happened—Jason’s mother, Alice, returned after disappearing for three years.
His mother struggled with alcohol addiction, but she started a recovery program to regain her health and stability.
Helping Kids and Strengthening Family
Alice moved in with her mom, Beth, to help continue her recovery and help to care for Jason. As the family started to get reacquainted, Alice started to volunteer in Jason’s Westside Head Start classroom.
Alice soon found herself surrounded by a forgiving and supportive group. Beth, Jason’s teacher and the Westside Head Start family support staff encouraged Alice to get engaged in the Westside Head Start program by attending conferences, trainings and events.
As she did this, she gained confidence and understood the work Beth and Jason had done together, so she could continue to support Jason’s growth.
By the end of the school year, Alice started attending school herself and enrolled in college courses. Beth and Alice thanked Westside Head Start teachers and family support staff for their work with Jason as she watched Jason’s behavior and development reach high levels, setting him for success in kindergarten. Now, the family is reunited and living together as Alice pursues her education to gain better financial stability to provide for Jason.