Community Baby Shower: Head Start program helps rural families with young kids

Posted at 1:44 PM, Jun 10, 2022

PAYETTE, Idaho — As most parents quickly figure out, newborn babies don't exactly come with a user's manual but that's where the Payette Head Start program comes in to help. It's one of five local non-profit organizations that will receive donations from this year's Community Baby Shower.

"I love kids and I love the families," teacher Barbara Cabrera said. "I love seeing them be able to meet a goal, even if it's a small goal like paying off a debt."

The center in Payette serves more than 100 kids with on-site child care and 30 home-based families like the Cullens.

"We really enjoy the program'," mom Vanessa Cullen said. Her two youngest children, Elliot and Paisley participate in the program, seeing weekly in-home visits.

"Right now we've been working on his motor development skills," Cullen said. "So [Barbara] brings activities to work on for both of them, does a check-in as to how we're doing and if we need anything."

The program also offers group classes where parents and kids can socialize and learn together. Traditionally, participation has been mostly moms, but Cabrera says recently more dads are getting involved, recognizing the need to educate all caregivers.

"We have a lot of grandparents taking care of babies right now, so they're like starting over," Cabrera said. "They're coming to us and saying, 'how are we supposed to do this?' so we are here guiding them, too, and giving them parenting classes."

By participating in group classes, in-home visits, and routine medical appointments, the families earn "baby bucks" to use in the Head Start parent store where they can take home essentials like diapers, wipes, and clothing at no cost.

"Just to see them, when they are struggling already with everything going up in the economy, for them to just be able to come in and get that, that takes a little bit of pressure off them to be able to utilize that service," Cabrera said.

They can never have too many diapers, wipes, or Pedialyte so if you're able to, you can make a donation at your neighborhood Albertsons store on Community Baby Shower day coming up on June 15.

You can also make a donation by texting BABY to 345-345.