Shortly after the Garcias enrolled their youngest son, Maximiliano, in BCFS Education Services’ Head Start, Max’s parents, Elizabeth and Alfonso, lost their jobs unexpectedly. “My husband and I were working for an oilfield company and the owners sold the company,” Mrs. Garcia recalls. “One day, we went to work and they told us to get our personal stuff and leave because the company had filed for bankruptcy.” For this hard-working family of five, it was devastating news. “They didn’t pay us for two weeks,” Mrs. Garcia says. “We (Mr. and Mrs. Garcia) were laid off at the same time and we were struggling really badly.” In her son’s Head Start classroom one afternoon, Mrs. Garcia confided in her BCFS Education Services Family Specialist about their situation. Without work or any income, they couldn’t afford to put food on the table. Mr. and Mrs. Garcia needed to get back to work, and fast.
Every family with a child enrolled in Head Start is assigned a Family Specialist who conducts home visits, assesses the family’s needs, and provides emergency assistance and crisis intervention as needed.
“Our (BCFS Education Services) Family Specialist gave me information about job fairs in the area; she told me where to go to apply for food stamps and encouraged me to apply for Medicaid,” Mrs. Garcia says. “She also gave me a number for a food pantry.”
At BCFS Education Services’ recommendation, Mrs. Garcia braved the job fair, armed with a resume and newfound confidence. There, she was hired on the spot for a medical products firm.
She picked up meals for her family from a local food pantry, with her Family Specialist’s referral. Later that summer, Mr. Garcia was hired as a carpenter in a small town outside Dallas. Things were starting to improve for the Garcias!
Max graduated from his Head Start classroom in the summer of 2016 and shortly afterwards the Garcia family moved to northeast Texas. They’ve since settled into their new home and both Mr. and Mrs. Garcia are gainfully employed with stable companies. Max’s mom says he’s excelling in his kindergarten classroom.
“He’s doing really well. Max’s teachers told me that he’s really ahead of the other kids because he’s reading,” Mrs. Garcia explains proudly. She attributes Max’s success to his time in the Head Start program.
“At first, I felt guilty waking him up at six in the morning, sometimes 5:30, and putting him on the bus by 6:30,” says Mrs. Garcia. “It was still dark, and I would feel guilty because he’s my baby. But I don’t regret it at all. He’s very smart, he’s in kindergarten and he’s reading already!”
Max’s teachers aren’t the only ones who have noticed how he’s made strides in the classroom.
“My other kids told me that they were surprised at Max’s progress. They asked me ‘how come you didn’t put us in Head Start? Max is really smart, and I don’t remember learning how to read by five years old,’ ” Mrs. Garcia laughs. “Of course, I’m not expecting that all my three kids are the same, or that they have the same ways of learning things, but it could be because Max started school earlier in Head Start.”
Mrs. Garcia says getting help from her Family Specialist was a life changer. “She would listen and talk to me, she knew that I was stressing out. When you’re so used to working and providing for your family and this (losing a job) happens to you, you want to go crazy, you don’t know where to go or what to do. She would encourage me, saying ‘don’t stress out, you’ll find a job,’ and then I was able to find work at the laboratory.” Today, the Garcia family is thriving. Max’s 13-year-old sister, Fernanda, is now in 7th grade. His 18-year-old brother, Sebastian, is helping their father with home renovation projects while he prepares to start college in the spring.
Through it all, the Garcia family stayed positive. With support from BCFS Education Services, the Garcias were able to regain some stability, and help Max get ready for kindergarten, better prepared to achieve academic excellence in elementary school, middle school and beyond!