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Region Stories

These stories illustrate how early childhood programs and services funded by First Things First make a difference for young children and families in communities across Arizona.

Cocopah Early Steps helps both mom and toddler with smooth transitions

Mom and daughter smiling

Stephanie Ramirez thought she was done raising young children. Her two oldest children were in their late teens when Ramirez had her daughter, Olivia.

“It was starting all over and learning some things I had forgotten in raising a young child,” she said.

Stephanie was looking for help parenting her toddler when she learned of the Cocopah Early Steps program, which provides voluntary coaching and in-home support for families.

The staff made her feel comfortable as she shared her concerns about being a busy working mom and needing help.

The First Things First Cocopah Tribe Regional Council funds the home visitation program, which provides bi-weekly visits from a trained parent educator, who provides parenting information and models ways to support healthy development in the young child.

When Olivia was 18-months-old, Stephanie enrolled in the Early Steps program and began learning more about brain development and how all children develop at a different pace. One thing Ramirez knew she needed help with was potty training. As Olivia became ready, Stephanie made the necessary accommodations in her house, dressed her with elastic waist pants and pull-ups to ease the process, and also was consistent in teaching her to use the toilet. All recommendations from the parent educator.

Stephanie also learned new ways to increase Olivia’s language development.

She committed to reading to her daughter daily and having conversations with her about their everyday activities using full sentences and avoiding “baby talk.” The parent educator told her children learn through repetition and she began repeating words to Olivia, which she soon started to also repeat.

Now 3 years old, when it came time for Olivia to attend Cocopah Head Start, Olivia became anxious. She didn’t want to go. One tool that helped was taking pictures of family members and making a photo album. “Olivia was the decorator and was in control of the decision which person or item went into the photo album,” Stephanie said. “Now she brings the photo album with her to preschool and looks at the pictures when she feels it is necessary.”

Providing Olivia with the needed comfort made the new experience less frightening and made for a smoother transition, Ramirez said.

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