Dancing around his living room with an infectious laugh, JaMichael is as carefree as any other four-year old that you might meet. But, JaMichael and his mother Diamond have come a long way.
Determined to make a successful life for herself and her son, Diamond moved to the Dubuque area when JaMichael was an infant. Diamond has four other children living with her grandmother out of state and wanted a different future for her youngest child. Enter the Four Oaks Parents as Teachers program (PAT).
The PAT program is a free, voluntary, family education and support program designed to provide practical, timely information on child development to families. Families work with a parent educator who guides them on their path to success.
When Four Oaks Parent Educator Patty Jungers first met Diamond, she and her son were virtually homeless, going from one friend’s couch to the next, often times losing their belongings as they moved. Diamond had been let down by one person after another and she was very unwilling to trust anyone. Patty was gradually able to gain Diamond’s trust through her sincere and honest approach to their interactions.
Eventually Diamond began to look to Patty as someone she could rely on and she felt open to share concerns regarding JaMichael’s development. With Patty’s help JaMichael was enrolled in a preschool program that has helped to greatly improve his behavior and cognitive abilities. Patty has also been instrumental in helping Diamond to complete job applications and secure stable employment and eventually a small apartment where she and her son are able to live without worry.
All of this has allowed Diamond and JaMichael to remain a family, which, according to Patty, is instrumental in JaMichael’s ability to be a successful child. Patty states, “Diamond and her son have a very unique relationship; you can see it when she walks in the room. Without Diamond, JaMicheal would be lost.”
Diamond knows that she can count on Patty and Four Oaks. With Patty’s continued support she hopes to reach further stability so that she can bring her other four children to live with her in Dubuque. She can now see a future in which they are all together again and she can’t wait!