Maria first learned about Peninsula Family Service (PFS) when she and her three children were accepted into transitional housing at LifeMoves, Haven Family House. She was a single mom in need of housing, clothing, food, and a safe place for her children to learn and grow. She does everything for her children, including leaving a dangerous living situation, and asking the community for help. While at Haven Family House, Maria was able to enroll her children into the Early Learning Child Development Center run by PFS. During the day, her children were safe with trusted adults, fed healthy meals, given therapeutic interventions, and most of all an opportunity to thrive.
With her children safe, Maria was able to focus on changing their lives to provide a stable environment. Maria met with case workers to obtain her Supplemental Security Income (SSI) while working 12-16 hours per day. As she was gaining stability for her family, she started to think about their future. She began to work with Adriana, a PFS Family Advocacy and Community Engagement (FACE) Coordinator who dedicates time to help the families PFS supports. Maria needed to learn English and find long-term employment. Adriana helped Maria enroll in the PFS Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential program to become an Early Learning teacher and be placed at a PFS Early Learning center.
As Maria began to learn more about Early Learning, she was invited to be on the PFS Policy Council, an active base of parents that make real decisions for families and children. Soon, she became President of the Policy Council and was asked to join the PFS Governing Board. She learned that she has a voice to create change and advocate for better support and services for families of young children, and people moving to California for more opportunity. In March 2023, Maria took her three children to the State Capitol to support Early Head Start Advocacy Day to improve funding for Early Learning initiatives.
Today, she works as an Early Learning teacher at one of eight PFS sites and is enrolling in the PFS Financial Empowerment program to learn about building credit and maintaining financial stability. She is a role model for other single-parent families, especially for her children as they learn that they also have a voice and deserve the resources and tools they need to live stable and thriving lives.
Maria is an example of how people can enter the PFS family through one program and end up changing their life by taking advantage of multiple programs PFS provides. We cannot wait to see her children grow in their own advocacy!
Read the full 2023 Annual Report here.