School Readiness for the Whole Family

Dante and Brielle engage in meaningful play with Families First Parent Educator, Lisenda Wright.

In January 2017, Dante, a newly single father, found himself thrust in the role of sole caregiver with no idea of how to provide for his young daughter. For this struggling father, our Early Learning program became a lifeline of support.

“Single dads need support,” Dante says, “I still have to learn how to engage with her.”

Across metro Atlanta, Families First offers Early Learning opportunities for parents, like Dante, to attend classes with their children and help parents ensure their children are prepared to transition into Kindergarten. Through meaningful play, bonding activities, home visits, and connections to community resources, we teach parents how to advocate for their children and become actively engaged in their education and development.

This spring, Families First launched a pilot Learning Space on Atlanta’s Westside in our Family Resource Center. This program, run in partnership with the United Way of Greater Atlanta, offers free, formal preschool experiences in nontraditional settings.

When Dante and his daughter, Brielle, arrived at Families First they formed an immediate bond with Lisenda Wright, a Families First parent educator. Brielle was not developmentally on track but, at four years old she had little time to get ready for Kindergarten. The three worked together in the Learning Space to help father and daughter bond and to get Brielle ready for school.

Not long after enrolling in the Learning Space, Dante’s housing situation became unstable. “We know that stable housing is critical for children to grow and thrive,” said Lisenda. “So I turned to my Families First colleagues and created an action plan that would be beneficial for both Dante and Brielle.”

Within a few weeks, we were able to place Dante and Brielle in their own apartment that is a part of Families First Shelter-A-Family supporting housing. Here they have a roof over their heads, warm beds, and the benefit of additional social services provided by Families First – all designed to put Dante and Brielle on a path to self-sufficiency.

Support of our mission from people like you help Families First be there with education, housing, counseling, and more when families, like Dante & Brielle, need it.

“I had to change busses two times to get there, but I made sure Brielle came to class every day”, said Dante. Now, Brielle is in Pre-K and she is thriving. “She was ready to go to school and I know how to help her now because of our classes at Families First.”