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Early Childhood: Justine & Michael

Justine and her three kids, including her two-year-old son Michael, were homeless and living in a women’s shelter in Waukegan when they enrolled in Kids Above All’s Lake County early childhood program in January 2016. She had ended an abusive relationship and needed help finding a safe place for her family to live. Justine was also concerned that their housing instability would impact Michael’s ability to succeed in school.

In their first visit, Justine and her Kids Above All Parent Educator Vanessa discussed a plan to find the family housing. Justine explained that Michael’s language skills were not developing as quickly as his other siblings and asked Vanessa to bring activities that would improve his speech.

Within a few months, Vanessa helped Justine to sign up for classes at the College of Lake County and find a new apartment for her family. She also connected them with summer enrichment programs through the Boys and Girls Club of Lake County and Mother’s Trust to ensure that the kids had somewhere safe to play while Justine went to class.

During their bimonthly, in-home visits, Vanessa, Justine and Michael continued to work on language activities – singing nursery songs, playing with puppets and rhyming – and Vanessa encouraged Justine to read to Michael as often as possible to increase his vocabulary. Michael also loved playing with blocks and memory cards to improve his motor and early math skills.

Michael is talking now, and both Justine and Michael are on-track to graduate in 2018 – Justine with her Associates Degree and Michael into a local Head Start program.

“In my time with Kids Above All, I have learned so much about how to become a better mother and parent. The program has given me a voice and empowered me to be a better woman, and without Vanessa, I wouldn’t have had the things I needed to take care of my children.”

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