On Friday, February 5th Bright Beginnings' very own Head Start Social Worker, Tamara Perez was honored by The Washington Wizards for her
dedication to helping the children and families of DC. Throughout the month of February, the Wizards and Amtrak are proud to honor the great
and countless contributions of African-Americans making a positive difference in their communities.
For the past 13 years, Tammy has dedicated her life's work to helping children and families in the District of Columbia "weather the storm". The heart of Tammy's professional experience is creating support
services for homeless families and their children. For Tammy, working with those who are homeless, especially small children, has been the most rewarding experience. All of us at Bright Beginnings are extremely proud of Tammy and the amazing work she does every day for our families. Watch here exclusive interview here.
My name is Loretta and my 3 year old and 4 year old have been here at Bright Beginnings for 3 years and benefitted from many of the services. My kids and I are better off because there’s a school like Bright Beginnings.
There’s the education program for my children, the therapeutic program that helps the kids deal with being homeless, and the socialworkers that have helped me get on sound footing too. I get upset really easily and they helped me address that.
Bright Beginnings is a great place for children and for me too. The comprehensive services really make a difference. I lived in a homeless shelter before I moved into transitional housing (where I am now) and a place like Bright Beginnings is really important for both parents and kids. My kids have a safe place to learn and everyone on staff is here to help them. I have learned a lot from the parenting classes and volunteering in my children’s classrooms. There is a lot I can learn about raising my children from the teachers and socialworkers. My children feel at home here and I do too.
I’ve seen progress in my children’s behavior and their learning. I realized how effective the education program was when my 4 year old started calling out the alphabet one day on the bus. He did all the letters that were on the bus signs. I was really excited and everyone on the bus started clapping. Both my children have scored well on the assessment tests. With my 3 year old, I’ve noticed how much she likes to read. I’ve also seen a change in her leadership and sharing skills. She’s automatically bossy (which she gets from me), but she’s trying to be a leader when she tells the other kids what to do because she’s doing what she sees the teachers doing.
Bright Beginnings has definitely made me a stronger parent. Bright Beginnings is the reason that I’m able to pursue my interest in computers. I just started a program that will help me earn all certifications I need to work in the computer field. I’m learning patience from the positive feedback I get from the teachers and socialworkers. I respond just like the kids when the teachers or the socialworkers compliment me on something I’m doing as a parent.
Bright Beginnings is so different than other programs because of all the services you find here. I really do feel that the teachers and the socialworkers care about my children as much as I do. We work together so my kids and I can succeed.
Takeah was six months old when she enrolled in Bright Beginnings’ infant care program. Her parents were trying to care for her and two older siblings but neither parent was living in permanent housing. Takeah’s mother wasn’t working and had substance abuse problems. She didn’t take very good care of Takeah, who was undernourished and frequently not bathed well. The social services team and her teachers worked with her parents to teach proper childcare and nutrition for each stage of Takeah’s development. Her parents’ relationship deteriorated, and Takeah’s father began caring for her. He openly welcomed the assistance and guidance of the teachers as he learned to provide her basic care. When Takeah began wearing clean clothing, eating nutritious meals and taking baths every day, the staff at Bright Beginnings watched her blossom. Her father has custody of the children and has moved into permanent housing.
Charles has been at Bright Beginnings less than a year. When he enrolled, his speech was unintelligible and he was diagnosed with cognitive delays, which were addressed by our onsite therapeutic and social services staff. Now, at age two-and-a-half, he speaks well and uses adjectives, describing school as "delicious" and "tasty." Charles loves all kinds of animals, particularly polar bears, tigers and alligators. He has a very good memory, especially for stories, and likes to tell a story out loud while looking at the pages of a picture book.
Mr. and Mrs. Marshall enrolled their daughter Shaniah at Bright Beginnings as an infant. Mr. Marshall was on probation, and the family was having difficulty staying together. With the help of Bright Beginnings social workers, the Marshalls received a year of intensive couples’ counseling. Mr. Marshall has now successfully completed probation and has a full-time job, while Mrs. Marshall is enrolled in college. Shaniah, now two-and-a-half years old, is a happy, healthy, typically-developing child, and both parents participate fully in the many parent activities at Bright Beginnings.
Jameel was two-and-a-half years old and not yet speaking when his mother enrolled him in Bright Beginnings. During his first day at the center, his teachers saw signs of autism, though this had not been diagnosed by his pediatrician. After an in-depth evaluation, Jameel began onsite occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, and behavior therapy with therapeutic services specialists. Our therapeutic team also worked with Jameel’s mother to educate her about his disorder and his special needs, and worked with his pediatrician to help him better understand Jameel’s needs. Today, Jameel, who is four years old, is enrolled in an autism program where he is thriving. He is speaking in full sentences, engaging socially with other children and having fun playing and learning with his peers.
Micah was just two years old when he came to Bright Beginnings. He had almost no language, cried incessantly and had extreme separation anxiety from his mother. He clung to her or to his teachers, all of whom he called “Ma.” After a few months in class, he now greets his mother eagerly and calls his teachers by their names. Micah plays well with other children. His expressive language has increased, and he is potty trained. The dinosaur is Micah’s favorite animal, and he loves to sing! Because of our low teacher/child ratio, teachers are able to give every child the special attention they need.
Lola Carter and her four young children’s lives were in shambles when they fled their home in another state to seek safety from domestic violence at a shelter in the District of Columbia . Ms. Carter had no money, no transportation and the children had just a few clothes. She had no records for her children -- no birth certificates, no social security numbers and no health or immunization records. The Bright Beginnings social services team stepped in immediately and very soon: all the necessary records for the children had been assembled; three children were enrolled at Bright Beginnings; all children had been assessed for disabilities or delays, and a plan was put in place for one child with disabilities; and her oldest child was attending elementary school. With all of her children in reliable child care, Ms. Carter was able to enroll in college full-time to study for her undergraduate degree in sociology.
The James Family
The James family, a married couple, found themselves living in a homeless shelter with their young son after working a series of jobs that did not pay a living wage or enable them to pay rent. The couple even considered divorce as a result of enormous anxiety and depression caused by their living situation, particularly because they felt they were failing their son. After enrolling their son at Bright Beginnings, both parents were able to locate new jobs. Once they found employment that paid a living wage and knew that their son was well cared for every day at Bright Beginnings, much of the stress was alleviated. Their son received free speech and language therapy onsite, which helped him to develop age appropriate skills. The James family moved into permanent housing eight months after enrolling at Bright Beginnings.