One February day, quite by mistake while exploring her neighborhood, Yoon Kim stumbled upon Maryland Family Network’s Southeast Baltimore Early Head Start Center sponsored by the Kennedy Krieger Family Center. She knew right away it was a perfect fit for both herself and her young son, Noah.
“I remember that cold day turned out to be a warm day thanks to the staff’s kindness.” Yoon recalls. “They explained in detail about the Center and assisted me in applying to the program.”
Since that day, Yoon and Noah have grown significantly thanks to the support and education that they both receive at Southeast Baltimore Early Head Start, which serves pregnant women and their children up to age three.
“I love to come to the Center. All my stress goes away once I enter the building,” Yoon says. “I truly believe my son receives the best care possible and a solid early education.”
Noah has opportunities to play with several other children in a stimulating and age appropriate child care environment. At the same time, Yoon takes parent education classes, GED preparation, and learns to make nutritious meals on a budget. The parents and children take group field trips to the zoo, farms, and Science Center. English is Yoon’s second language and she has impressively just enrolled in a Spanish class at the Center.
“I really enjoy all of the educational and valuable resources provided in the classes,” Yoon says. “My English and parenting skills have improved and I’m enjoying my kids even more.”
The well trained and devoted staff are what Yoon believes are at the heart of the Center.
“I really appreciate everything we have received from this wonderful program” Yoon beams. “They treated us as if we are their family members. To me they are angels.”
The involvement of the parents is also a significant factor in what makes Maryland Family Network’s 26 Family Support Centers a success. Yoon has been serving on the Center’s Policy Committee and completed the Parent Leadership Institute. The parent’s involvement with these groups helps them build skills and increase their self-confidence to take on active, effective leadership roles in the Center and in the community.
“I was able to regain some confidence. I feel I have tremendous support throughout the year. I want to raise my kids to be responsible citizens and who can contribute to our society the way Southeast Early Head Start did for me,” Yoon says. “I truly believe Early Head Start programs are the best programs for babies, children, and parents. I have lots of unforgettable precious memories that I will cherish forever.”