My name is Terra Bippes and I’m a mother of three young girls in Spokane. Currently I’m a stay-at-home mom and a small business owner/operator, but that wasn’t always the case. Two years ago I worked a very stressful corporate sales role that took me on the road 12 weeks a year and attempted to balance work and home life with a young family. I often felt like I was failing miserably and my children were the ones that suffered.
During this time my middle daughter, Miya, was diagnosed with a severe speech delay. Of course being her mom, I had already been witness to this and seen how it affected her. She was often ridiculed and not included by her peers because she “talked like a baby”.
Her father and I wondered if Miya would be able to overcome her communication obstacle and be ready for kindergarten. How would her speech affect her ability to read, her ability to spell, her ability to make friends and her self-confidence to be a contributing member of her class?
We looked into private speech therapy and I was shocked to find that each session would cost us over $100 and Miya needed 2 sessions per week. That would be $800 a month! We were already stretched thin, paying $1600 a month for our two youngest to be in full-time daycare. There was no way we could spare the extra money. I also didn’t know how we would be able to get Miya to her appointments with both parents working full time.
This is how my family first came to experience the family-saving benefits of ECEAP. We were referred by our pediatrician to see a speech pathologist at the Central Valley Early Learning Center. There I learned that we might qualify for assistance with the cost of preschool and speech therapy. Ultimately, we did qualify and Miya was enrolled.
It’s interesting to note that if this story were unfolding today, my family would not qualify for ECEAP services due to changes in the requirements to qualify. This is one reason that I am so passionate about the Fair Start for Kids Act because it will expand entitlement of the ECEAP program to more families and children who are truly in need.
Fast forward to today and I’m happy to report that Miya is a thriving kindergartner who is still actively working on her speech, but thanks to the ECEAP program at the CV Early Learning Center she was prepared and excited for the next step in her education. She loves school, is the social butterfly of her class and has a bunch of friends.
The CV Early Learning Center also allowed me to become a more active participant in my community. I chaired the Parent Policy Council and have worked with the school to ensure that our families are fed, clothed and have access to resources in our community.
Did you know that every family enrolled through ECEAP works with a dedicated Family Support Specialist who helps them set and obtain family goals? Because of the support that I received from my Family Support Specialist Kami, I’m proud to say that I now own and operate a successful small business here in the Spokane Valley.
As I hope that you can see from my family’s story, the benefits of Early Childhood Education reach beyond teaching preschoolers the ABC’s. ECEAP helps to remove the barriers that parents have for entering our local workforce by providing high-quality education and child-care for our future leaders.
Every month my family, like so many Washingtonians, writes our budget. We always, always prioritize the needs of our children first. I’m here today asking that our State do the same. Invest in our children and our future.
Share your ECEAP or Head Start story here: http://bit.ly/myeceapwhy2021