With nine children under her roof, Diane knew that she couldn’t continue to support her family with the minimum wage income she earned working at a group home, but she didn’t know what else to do.
Knowing that she wanted to improve her earning ability, Diane shared her desire to improve her financial situation with Ruth Gonzalez, a Family Support Specialist in the Early Education Division at Maricopa County Human Services. Ruth’s job is to ensure that families with children enrolled in the County’s Head Start program have the tolls and support they need to be successful. When she heard about Diane’s desire to improve her employment, Ruth reached out to her colleague Maria Mancinas. Maria also works for Maricopa County’s Human Services Department. Her role is to help county residents start, change or advance in their careers.
Ruth and Maria told Diane about a program that provides eligible parents with the opportunity to have no-cost vocational training. At first, Diane was skeptical about how she could add vocational training to hectic schedule of working full time and caring for nine kids. She has already tried attending Mesa Community College but had to drop out.
Ruth and Maria continued to encourage Diane to obtain higher education so she and her family could have a more secure future. Diane decided to enroll in training to become a dental assistant. With the support of family members who helped with childcare, she worked during the day and attended community college at night.
After much hard work, dedication and help from her support system, Diane finished her schooling earning a Dental Assistant Certification and a spot on the Dean’s List. Diane now works a stable schedule as a dental assistant and earns more than minimum wage – a raise from her previous job.
Diane’s story has served as inspiration for others. Impressed by her determination, officials at the City of Chandler asked her to speak at a Town Hall meeting to share how the rental assistance support she received from the city and the educational assistance from the county allowed her to pursue her higher education which led to a brighter future for her family.
“In Head Start, we strive for parents to become self-sufficient and help them meet their needs to become successful,” said Ruth. “Diane demonstrated how to be role model for her children, and how school readiness and education are important components of success.”
If you know a family with children under the age of 5 years who could benefit from the wraparound services provided through the Maricopa County Head Start program, we invite you to share this link: www.Maricopa.gov/HeadStart. For more information on other support available through the Maricopa County Human Services Department, visit www.Maricopa.gov/HelpWithBills.