First 5 San Joaquin
Mom Erica and her son Ivan

A second-time mom, Erica knew her two-year-old son Ivan should be talking more. “He said a few words—like ‘mom’ and ‘dad’—but nothing substantial,” says Erica, a Stockton resident. “I just hoped he was a late bloomer.” At the time, Erica received weekly visits from a home visitor through CalWORKs’ Helping to Enhance Parents’ Potential (CalHEPP) program. The home visitor administered the Ages and Stages Questionnaire (developmental tool for early detection and intervention), and “pointed out (the results) to me and said, you might want to look into this,” Erica says. “So I took my son to the pediatrician.”

“If I hadn’t had (a home visitor) come to my home, things would have just gotten worse,” she says. “I’m in a much better emotional state, and I’m ready for work.”

The doctor’s visit was a turning point. Erica was in an abusive relationship, and she learned that Ivan’s speech and language delays were a symptom of their traumatic home environment. “It was taking a toll on my son, myself, and my 16-year-old daughter,” she says. “I knew it was a problem, but I didn’t know how to go about making it better.”

Erica’s home visitor swiftly connected her to counseling, housing, and child care. “It hugely changed my life,” Erica says. “She came into my home and saw my life from a completely different scope.” Today, Erica has a stable living arrangement and is in a job training program. Ivan is now four and fully verbal.