Elena and Hugo




Miriam Avila, the North Rockland Parent-Child Home Program (PCHP) Coordinator is well aware of the benefits of PCHP because she has experienced it first-hand as a PCHP parent, Early Learning Specialist, and Coordinator. Miriam knows that PCHP parents not only learn to read, play, and converse with their child, but they also have the opportunity to access information, resources, and services through the Program. One such PCHP family is the Martinez family, Elena and her two-year old son, Hugo, who began PCHP in October 2017.


When Miriam arrived at Elena’s apartment for the initial intake, she encountered a mother eager to participate in PCHP, but burdened with a significant problem. Elena shared with Miriam that her ex-husband was continuing a pattern of harassment and intimidation. During their marriage he was physically and emotionally abusive, threatening her, leaving her isolated in their apartment with no cell phone, no money, and unable to communicate because she does not speak English. Elena has no family or friends locally to turn to, so she was socially isolated and living in fear of her husband.


When she left her husband, he continued to intimidate her, threatened to take Hugo away from her saying she was an unfit mother, and refused to pay child support. This young mother has been victimized and traumatized repeatedly.


When Elena shared her story during her intake, Miriam jumped into action providing her with information and resources about the services available to her in Rockland County. Miriam also offered encouragement, a shoulder to lean on, and nurturing support. Elena eventually accessed some of the resources provided by Miriam and went to in Family Court to get full custody of her son and enforcement of previous child support arrangements.


Elena is now in a loving and supportive relationship which has changed her view of the future. She has also found part-time work cleaning houses and has even attended the Mommy & Me Preschool Playgroup offered by Miriam at West Haverstraw Elementary School. They are doing well in PCHP, always ready when the Early Learning Specialist arrives with a book or toy, eager to participate.


When they started in the Program, Hugo was not yet verbal and not consistently exhibiting precursors to being verbal, such as pointing and babbling. In addition, he did not smile often and did not look to mom for praise. Miriam and the Early Learning Specialist have been paying very close attention to Hugo’s progress and are able provide information and guidance about resources. Miriam has encouraged Elena to attend the Immigrant Mother’s Group sponsored by VCS, Inc. that several other PCHP mothers also attend. The chance to interact with other mothers and children could reduce the family’s social isolation and help them make friends. Each step Elena and Hugo take will help them move past their previous trauma and develop skills, knowledge, confidence and resilience, and Miriam and the North Rockland PCHP will be there to help.


Hugo has certainly progressed in the Program. He is now more confident and exhibits more self-efficacy when faced with challenges. He is no longer timid and looks forward to the home visits. Elena says that he is now a very happy child. PCHP has helped both mom and son build a stronger bond and has also helped build Hugo’s confidence. We are so proud of how far Hugo and Elena have come and we look forward to the adventures ahead of them!