In a matter of only a few days, COVID-19 swept through Martha’s home making it impossible for her husband to go to work, for her to go grocery shopping, or for her kids to attend school. To make things even more difficult, the family’s stove broke. Despite all of these setbacks, Martha and her family were able to keep the faith that things would get better thanks to support from Maricopa County’s Human Services Department.
Norma Lopez, a Family Support Specialist with the Early Education Division, was connected to Martha and her family through the Head Start program. Every family enrolled in Maricopa County’s Head Start program is not only linked to a classroom, teacher, and site supervisor but they are also partnered with a family support specialist. The role of the family support specialist, among other duties, is to ensure that families have what they need to thrive.
Throughout these setbacks, Martha and her family remained in close communication with Norma, who was determined to help them get through the difficult time. First, she contacted St. Mary’s Food Bank and was able to schedule a food box delivery since Martha was unable to leave her home.
With the understanding that their tight financial situation could quickly become an emergency, Norma assisted the family with an application for rent and utility assistance to ensure Martha’s family could pay their rent and stay in their home. Within two weeks, Martha and her family were able to help secure emergency financial assistance for a few months' rent, which would give the family time to get back on their feet financially.
Norma also went the extra mile to help Martha with language translation and even called the family’s property manager to request a stove to replace the broken one. This too was successful, and after a delay caused by pandemic supply issues, the family received a new stove.
Norma said that the Head Start program is designed to continually develop communication and rapport with its families and by working with other agencies and partners, she can deliver effective resources to families in times of crisis.
In Martha’s case, Norma said she was not only happy to be able to help the family but was touched to see how the family’s faith helped them remain hopeful during such troubling times.
If you, your family, or a friend can benefit from the care and support offered to families with young children through Maricopa County’s Head Start program, please visit Maricopa.gov/HeadStart.