Sheila Martinez fell in love during her 2008 internship at CAPS. “I didn’t want to leave. I have a passion for being with my families – seeing their progress and accomplishments feeds me.” Thirteen years later and she is still going strong, working as a Healthy Families home visitor.
“I love getting goofy and creative to get the kids engaged – if I get the kids engaged, then mom gets hooked as well.” Sheila sees learning opportunities in common household items. Take plastic Easter eggs for instance. “You can hide tiny things inside and play guessing games with kids, you can use them to teach colors and counting – I find all kinds of ways to use them.” Sheila’s car serves as her office, and it’s filled with her supplies. “With warmer weather, I have sidewalk chalk, frisbees, balls, buckets, scoops, measuring spoons and cups and a water table to set up for outdoor playing. When parents learn how to play with their children, they pay better attention to their child’s cues and behaviors.”
Sheila says she’s grateful for the opportunity to return to doing in-home visits after the COVID restrictions of last year. “I was not set up to work at home – home is my sanctuary. I had to set up space in my living room to work. Even though some of the home visiting guidelines were relaxed and we were able to do virtual visits, it wasn’t the same. It’s really difficult to keep a family engaged in an online visit for a full hour.”
In May of 2020 (two months into the pandemic) Sheila realized she was battling depression due to missing the interaction with children. “I was missing the milestones I’m usually there for – like seeing their first tooth come in or starting to crawl.” When in person visits resumed in July, the first home Sheila returned to has a family with seven children. “The baby was my target child, but every visit I had six kids gathered around me wanting attention.”
Sheila estimates she is back in around 95% of her homes, but some families are still leery of in person visits. “The warmer weather means we can meet outside and socially distance, so I’m hopeful to see those families in person soon.”
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