Mom Receives Help and Hope from Parents as Teachers Program
When Dominga De la Cruz and her husband noticed that their 6-month-old son, Miguel, could not hold up his head, track objects with his eyes or grab for toys with his tiny hands – all developmental milestones for his age – they naturally became worried.
De la Cruz took Miguel to a pediatrician several times hoping to get some answers. Each time the doctor said the baby was OK and told her not to worry. Her mother’s intuition knew something was wrong, but she had no idea where else to turn, so she let it go.
Then one day a friend invited her to an infant massage class taught by parent educator consultants with Collaborative for Children. At her friend's urging, De la Cruz approached parent educator consultant Carmen Hernandez after class and explained her concerns about Miguel. Hernandez invited the mother to sign up for Collaborative for Children’s Parents as Teachers program, which provides in-home parenting support with child development and referrals to community resources.
An elated De la Cruz signed up for the program. Now more than five months later, with the help of therapy, 11-month-old Miguel has made huge progress. He is sitting up, reaching for toys, holding his head up, and even beginning to crawl.
“I’m extremely happy because he’s more normal,” said De la Cruz in Spanish translated by Hernandez. “I would have been stuck without Carmen’s help.”
During Hernandez’s first home visit with Miguel, she immediately observed issues with the infant’s gross motor skills and could hear the child had some chest congestion. Hernandez called De la Cruz’s medical insurance company to learn whether referrals are required to visit a specialist. With no referrals needed, Hernandez recommended De la Cruz take her son to see an ENT specialist and an ophthalmologist. Miguel received a clean bill of health from the eye doctor, but the ENT referred him for pulmonary treatment.
Meanwhile, Hernandez managed to set up therapy through Early Childhood Intervention Services. ECI’s procedure is to send a referral to the patient’s primary doctor for a signature. Miguel’s pediatrician insisted the baby did not need therapy and refused to sign the referral. A frustrated and angry De la Cruz, who speaks Spanish only, once again felt frustrated and defeated.
During a follow-up visit to the De la Cruz home, Miguel was so sick that Hernandez suggested De la Cruz take him to the emergency room. The ER doctor immediately admitted Miguel for treatment.
“The first question the ER doctor asked was, “Is he seeing a therapist?” Hernandez said.
The ER doctor sent a referral to ECI for therapy. Miguel’s pediatrician received the referral from ECI and agreed to sign it only after De la Cruz threaten to report him. After several months of medical wrangling, Miguel finally received his first therapy evaluation.
“I was very happy,” said De la Cruz, who also has an 8-year-old son. “I finally knew something was wrong and my son would get help.”
Hernandez continues to work with the De la Cruzes and Miguel twice a month to supplement the therapy he receives through ECI. Participants in the Parents as Teachers program receive services from birth through 3 years old.
“I feel so relieved for the parents,” Hernandez said. “They now feel more confident and empowered to advocate for their child.”
De la Cruz said she tells every parent she knows about Collaborative for Children’s Parents as Teachers program. Many times parents do not feel comfortable seeking help, but I see how my baby has benefitted from the program, she said.