With your help, an immigrant family found critical support for their three-year-old during a challenging time.
Sam and Rose immigrated to the United States because their home country of Kenya did not offer them the kind of career opportunities they were looking for. And they wanted safer, better educational opportunities for their children.
With green card status secured, they arrived in Oregon in 2017 with their two children, aged three and nine. They worked temporary jobs with alternating shifts at first. Sam was then able to get a more permanent job in the tech field.
But it was hard for Rose to pursue her career, because their youngest, Zoey, was not yet old enough for kindergarten.
Things changed when a neighbor told them about our Head Start program, an early childhood education program for children prenatal – five years.
They enrolled Zoey but were nervous because the three-year-old didn’t understand English very well - it wasn’t her first language. But when they walked Zoey into the classroom that first day, they relaxed as they were greeted by a warm and understanding team of teachers and staff.
The classroom teachers supported Zoey in learning English by focusing first on comprehension. The next step was building up Zoey’s confidence to start speaking English. It became clear to her teachers that she was holding back out of fear. So they made it fun by encouraging her to speak through games and other interactive activities.
Zoey's confidence grew over the year and a half she was in Head Start, and soon she was speaking and socializing with other children in English.
Sam and Rose are so grateful to supporters like you. They can’t imagine what it would have been like for Zoey to start kindergarten without those years at Head Start, where she not only learned English but also grew in her social and emotional development.
Looking back, Sam says, "We weren't worried about her transition to kindergarten. She was ready. She was used to other kids and was confident with the language because of her time in Head Start."
Sam also credits Head Start with helping in other meaningful ways.
Coming to a new country and learning how to navigate systems was difficult. But Zoey’s Head Start teachers were a wealth of information about the community, the public education system, and how to be supportive advocates for their children in their new country. Additionally, with Zoey in the safe and enriching environment of Head Start, Rose had the time to focus on her own career.
Today, Rose has a rewarding career in the field of Information and Technology. Sam is currently working in the field of Cybersecurity. He is an avid volunteer and is working toward an Executive MBA degree at the University of Oregon. They are both thrilled with the opportunities they have found for themselves and their children in their new home of Oregon.