Samantha Guajardo was nine years old when she started to learn the value of hard work. She grew up in a family who earned a living through migrant farm work.
The 24-year-old Crystal City resident said she recalls working side-by-side in various fields with her family picking onions, sugar beets, and potatoes, to help put food on their own table. It was hard work but to her, it was a way of life.
“It was how we made a living. I never thought about it as anything else. This is how my family has survived through life,” she said. “Migrant work is part of who we are.”
She said her parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents, have always been extremely dedicated to their work.
“It’s my mom’s side of the family that has invested most of their lives in migrant work,” she said.
Samantha traveled with her family many times, and during her travels, she said her family always encouraged her to keep her options open, despite obstacles like figuring out how to pay for college and transportation.
“I’ve always dreamed of becoming a nurse. I love helping people and I’m compassionate. Helping make a patient get better is something I can see myself doing,” described Samantha.
So when she graduated from Crystal City High School, she knew she wanted to go to college but felt overwhelmed when thinking about it. She asked herself: How will I ever pay for college? In addition to that, she was expecting a child and would be raising her son as a single mom.
She felt her dream of becoming a nurse was now out of reach. “I became depressed and felt discouraged about going to school,” she said.
As she was feeling hopeless and uninspired, she heard about Family Service Association and how they helped individuals and families in need of support. She felt a glimpse of hope.
“I reached out to Family Service and they offered to help me get back on track with my dream,” she said. “Family Service was a godsend. They believed in me.”
Samantha was inspired, once again, to pursue her dream. With the support of Family Service, Samantha received assistance to pursue job training in an LVN program with funding through a grant from the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA), Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) for migrant and seasonal farmworkers. She also received financial counseling through Family Service’s Financial Empowerment Center.
She was encouraged by Family Service to enroll in the Vocational Nursing Program at Southwest Texas Junior College in Uvalde, and has recently completed the program with flying colors. She plans on earning her LVN license this summer. But her dream won’t end there; Samantha plans on enrolling in the registered nurse (RN) program at San Antonio College and hopes to complete it in the fall of 2019.
She also desires to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing, once she completes the RN program. “I would love to earn my BSN and after that, maybe become a nurse practitioner. There are so many opportunities now.”
And eventually, Samantha wants to work in a hospital specializing in labor and delivery. “I’ll be working my dream job as a labor and delivery nurse, doing what I love and still be able to come home and love my son. That’s my main goal.”
“I’m so happy and excited. I’m finally pursuing my dream. It’s happening and it’s what I always wanted for myself and for my family,” she explained. “My son is even inspired by my dream. I think he wants to become a doctor so who knows, right?”
Samantha said the possibilities are endless when you get the support you need from people who believe in you. And for Samantha and her four-year-old son, Matthew, that support was there for them, thanks to Family Service and to her own hard working family.
“The Family Service team has empowered me to go after my dreams. I’ve learned to never give up. No one should have to,” said Samantha. “So if you have a dream but feel it’ll never come true, please don’t give up. There’s hope. And, there’s Family Service.”
The Best Buy Teen Tech Center, located at Family Service Association’s The Neighborhood Place, has received much-deserved renovations.Best Buy Teen Tech Center Family Services San Antonio MEDIA ALERT FINAL 73018
The Early Childhood Education program promotes school readiness and parental engagement by enhancing the cognitive, physical, linguistic, social and emotional development of children through the provision of educational, health, nutritional, social and other services to enrolled children, from the ages 0-5 years old and their families. These services are responsive to each child and family’s ethnic, cultural and linguistic heritage encouraging the role of parents as their child’s first and most important teachers. The program builds relationships with families that support positive parent-child relationships, family well-being and connections to peers and community.
|Early Head Start & Head Start Annual Report 2016-2017|
|Early Head Start Child Care Partnership/Head Start Annual Report 2015-2016|
|Head Start Annual Report 2013-2014|
OUR HEAD START program promotes school readiness by enhancing the cognitive, social and emotional development of children through the provision of educational, health, nutritional, social and other services to enrolled children and families. These services are responsive to each child and family’s ethnic, cultural and linguistic heritage. Head Start encourages the role of parents as their child’s first and most important teachers. The program builds relationships with families that support positive parent-child relationships, family well-being and connections to peers and community.
Family Service is a non-profit organization and the Head Start program serves a funded enrollment of 1,610 age and income eligible children and families as a Head Start Grantee in San Antonio, Texas. Services are provided in three school districts:
Services are also provided at four satellite sites and one Charter School:
Our commitment is to provide high quality comprehensive early childhood education and family support services to empower families and their children to reach their full potential while strengthening the community.
Services offered include:
Early Head Start Child Care Partnership
Early Head Start Child Care Partnership is a new opportunity to support the partnering of Early Head Start Programs with Child Care Providers to expand the number of quality slots for infants and toddlers in San Antonio. Through partnership, Early Head Start grantees partner with center-based and family child care providers who agree to meet early Head Start Program Performance Standards and Regulations and provide high-quality comprehensive, full-day, full year services to infants and toddlers from low-income families.
The program provides early, continuous, intensive, and comprehensive child development and family support services that enhances the physical, social, emotional, and intellectual development of participating children. In addition, services provide young children ages birth to 36 months, with an array of comprehensive services including health, nutritional, behavioral, and family services. Family Service Early Head Start Child Care Partnership is building relationships and has partnered with Northside Independent School District and YMCA-Haven for Hope and will serve 140 infants and toddlers who qualify for services.
|Early Head Start Child Care Partnership Locations|
|Boone||6614 Spring Time Dr.||San Antonio||78249||210-397-1494|
|Growing Tree||5671 Grissom Rd.||San Antonio||78238||210-397-8959|
|Haven for Hope||600 Leal||San Antonio||78207||210-596-0087|
|Lackland Village||1739 SW Loop 410 #301||San Antonio||78227||210-673-3762|
If you are interested in applying for Head Start or Early Start Child Care Partnership programs, click HERE to being the application process.
Child abuse is happening in every state throughout our country. All you have to do is turn on your TV and you’ll probably see another news report on the latest child abuse case, once again making headlines. It’s extremely disturbing to hear the horrors of child abuse happening in our country and in our own neighborhoods. And when it hits home, it should become a community’s top priority to find ways of putting a stop to it. That’s why Family Service is working closely with San Antonio City Councilwoman Shirley Gonzales of District 5, where the numbers of child abuse reported cases is especially prevalent, and is also one of the most economically distressed parts of the city.
The statistics are staggering. In 2017, San Antonio had the third highest rate of reported child abuse cases in Texas. A total of 5,588 confirmed cases of child abuse and neglect were reported in San Antonio. Of those 5,588, over 30% were in the city’s West side, specifically within the 78207 and 78228 zip code areas, according to the Texas Department of Family Protective Services.
Because of Councilwoman Gonzales’s concern over the alarming numbers of child abuse cases in the city’s Westside, she began to work on confronting the problem head on. Councilwoman Gonzales received the support from City Council members to develop a unique pilot program that will help reduce the number of child abuse incidences in her district. Councilwoman Gonzales, along with Family Service Association, has developed the Promotoras Child Abuse Prevention Program. The pilot uses a peer-to-peer mentor model, allowing trained community members known as Promotoras, also parents in the same targeted zip code areas, to provide valuable in-home healthcare education to at-risk families. The goal is to increase parental and child nurturing skills to ensure the health and safety of children, and ultimately to strengthen and empower families.
We also hope to help families improve their financial outcomes through job training and education. The program will utilize multiple approaches that have proven to be successful in improving the well-being, financial, and medical conditions of low-income children.
In November 2017, Family Service Association reached out to the Westside community by inviting residents in the 78207 zip code area to attend Community Health Worker classes, held at the Westside Education Training Center. The grant, initiated by Councilwoman Gonzales, allowed for ten residents in the 78207 zip code area, to participate in the Promotoras Program. Since then, the ten participants have completed their required certification hours, and have recently walked across the stage to receive their hard earned diplomas.
In addition, Family Service Association offered a Nurturing Training Curriculum, also completed by the Promotoras. The organization was able to hire four of the ten Promotoras, who will soon be working closely with targeted at-risk populations. The other six have also been employed by area organizations. And because the Promotoras live in the same zip code area, and for some, have experienced domestic violence or similar situations themselves, families will be more comfortable sharing their life challenges with them.
The program has given the Promotoras a unique opportunity to help their own community. Some of them are young mothers themselves and understand how stressful it can be to raise a child with little resources. The Promotoras will serve as a valuable resource to young families. Ultimately, it’s about neighbors helping neighbors, in an effort to reduce child abuse in our community. And, we must start with one neighborhood at a time.
Family Service Association hopes to see improved home environments within the next two years of the pilot. Program partners include the University of Texas at San Antonio to evaluate the success of the program over a two year period, and the Westside Education Training Center to train and certify the community Promotoras.
To learn more about the Promotoras Pilot Program, please call 210-431-7566. If you find yourself struggling with family issues and need to talk to a counselor, please call Family Service at 210-299-2400.
If you suspect child abuse or need to report child abuse, please call the Texas Abuse Hotline at 1-800-252-5400.
Mary E. Garr, For the Express-News: Promotoras — a pilot program to help end child abus