Victoria Garcia, 24, enrolled in the YCS Parent As Teachers (PAT) home visitation program in June 2020 out of concern for the development of her baby. Leandro was her first child, and being isolated by the Covid-19 Pandemic, she wondered if there was more she could be doing to help him develop and be a better mom. Although the YCS Lead Parent Educator, Pia Ababon, MA, LAC was unable to physically home visit Victoria due to COVID-19 restrictions, she counseled her during regularly scheduled Tele Health visits.
Ababon addressed all of Victoria’s immediate concerns. Most importantly, she reassured Victoria that that she was doing a great job and Leandro was hitting all of his developmental milestones. Ababon also guided Victoria with evidence-based information on health, parent-child attachment, and ways to establish routines for both herself and her son.
As Victoria got to know Ababon, she began to open up about mental health and financial struggles that were overwhelming her. To Victoria’s surprise, Ms. Ababon was equally concerned about her well-being.
“One of Victoria’s goals was to find employment, but her anxiety and other challenges were a road block,” said Ababon. With Ababon’s support, Victoria connected with a psychiatrist and got back on medication.
“Pia was a constant source of encouragement to me while I looked for a new therapist and job,” said the Jersey City mom.
Victoria, now employed full time, gives much of the credit to Ababon. “Pia helped me get my life back on track…It is such a huge relief to be working again. I know I am getting my life together,” says Victoria. She now faces the challenge of securing reliable day care for Leandro, and admits that it is sometimes overwhelming, but with Ababon’s support she has the confidence she’ll get through it.
“Victoria is very resilient. She is aware of her situation and emotions. She understands that life and motherhood can be challenging. But, she has been running head first to tackle her goals for herself and Leandro,” explains Ababon. According to Ababon, adding PAT works because it is a non-judgmental emotional support.
Because Victoria was unfamiliar with the resources in her community, Ababon has assisted her in navigating the social services system, secure health insurance, and apply to the Urban League of Hudson County for child care.
Victoria looks forward to the day when she can meet Ababon in person. “I want to thank her…When I see her in person I know it will be even better.”
About YCS Parents As Teachers
YCS Parents As Teachers (PAT) uses a strengths-based approach to help families identify their own unique capabilities and skills. At the time of intake, a plan for at least 2 years of support is drafted. Most families continue services until their child finishes kindergarten. Parent Educator visits the family twice a month between 60 and 90 minutes per visit. In homes with newborns, visits occur once a week.
PAT educational services focus on nutrition, safety, setting boundaries, sleep, and attachment. During home visits, the parent educator discusses with the parent progress of their child’s physical, emotional, and social development parenting concerns and stressors. Since 2013, YCS has been an approved PAT provider of in-home services for at-risk families of young children in Hudson County. PAT is a program of the YCS Institute for Infant and Preschool Mental Health.