The Early Head Start Advantage

In 2012, Brooklynnn Carrizales heard about Brightpoint’s Early Head Start program from a friend. At the time, her daughter was ten months old. Brooklynn now has three children and all of them have been in the Early Head Start program and Brooklynn loves it.

“I was surprised by all the things I was offered,” said Brooklynn. “The longer I was on the program, the more benefit I got out of it.”

Brightpoint’s Early Head Start Home Visitors go to families’ homes once a week and lead the child and parent in fun, interactive learning activities based on the child’s needs. These experiences are designed to foster mental, social, emotional, and physical growth through play and age-appropriate activities.

While enrolled in Early Head Start, families receive various kinds of benefits depending on what is available in the county where they live. In Noble county, Beds and Britches, Etc. or “BABE” is a program that gives vouchers to parents who use services in the community. The vouchers are good for baby supplies, clothes, and even cribs.

Brooklynn said the BABE vouchers are a huge help. She uses them every week to get diapers – a large expense in her household with two children in diapers. Her Home Visitor also makes sure she keeps up on doctors’ visits which was crucial with one of her children who had some serious health issues.

Brooklynn said while the assistance is very valuable to her and her family, being in Early Head Start isn’t just about the help she is getting. The social interaction from the home visits and the “play dates” may be even more important.

“It is something that my children look forward to every week,” she commented about the home visits. Those and the “play dates” are perhaps her favorite parts of the program.

“Play dates are really fun – and not just for the kids,” she said. These outings offer her an opportunity to get out of the house, too. She enjoys the fun times and learning experiences she is having with her children. On a recent ‘play date,’ they visited a pumpkin patch and several times over the years Brooklynn and her family have been able to go to the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo. “These are things we wouldn’t be able to do if it wasn’t for Brightpoint.”

Another benefit of being in Early Head Start is being connected to additional assistance through Brightpoint and other community resources. Brooklynn and her husband were recently excited to be able to purchase their first home. They were excited, that is, until one day they discovered leaks in their plumbing that they couldn’t afford to fix.

“My home visitor came that week and I was crying,” Brooklynn said. “I explained to her what was going on and I really didn’t know what I was going to do.” Brightpoint was able to get her leaky pipes repaired and her Home Visitor discovered that she qualified for the Weatherization program.

“I didn’t know that (Brightpoint) did that,” Brooklynn said about the home repair and weatherizing work that was done. “Everybody worked together so fast to get those things done. It was a true blessing.”