LaTrenda Balderas and her family were going through a rough time when she first learned about Parent Promise in 2015.
“I was at Infant Crisis Services because I needed diapers for my 3-month-old son,” she remembers. “We were broke because my husband had been laid off from the oilfield. We lost a lot when he lost his job, and with three children, we were hopping from relative’s to relative’s house to get by.”
It wasn’t the first time LaTrenda had faced difficulties. She was in foster care from age 9 to 15, and lived in a variety of group homes and shelters. She had a difficult relationship with her mother. She became pregnant when she was only 15. However, she had come through those dark days, had married and was working on her goals for education and family sustainability until the setback of her husband’s layoff hit.
LaTrenda was a graduate of Oklahoma City Community College with an associate’s degree in sociology. She was working as a personal care assistant for a home health company. She wanted to keep going with her education, but was overwhelmed with the family’s precarious financial situation, plus working and caring for three young children.
That day at Infant Crisis Services, she met Roselie Hernandez, a parent educator with Parent Promise. Roselie explained to LaTrenda that Parent Promise provides families support and guidance as they navigate the tough waters of raising children. Even though LaTrenda wasn’t a first-time mother, she knew that at this point, she needed some help and support. When her youngest son came along, LaTrenda was stressed with school, working and her husband trying to find permanent work.
“After Roselie started visiting us on a regular basis, she helped me understand Jeremiah (3-months old) was not developmentally behind as I had thought,” she said. “I had two other children, but as you know, they are all different. I was a single mom with my first, and I had postpartum depression with my second.”
She soon understood that Jeremiah was developing just fine as the youngest of the three children. She also said Roselie helped her create developmental toys out of things around the house.
“When you’re struggling financially and can’t run out to Target or Walmart for toys, this type of support is so helpful because you now know you can help your child develop just like those who can afford to go buy new toys,” she said.
Roselie also helped the family with goal-setting, and LaTrenda and her husband finally saved enough money for a deposit on an apartment. That move provided a great deal of stability, she said.
She gradually began to work on her goal of returning to school to finish her bachelor’s degree. During that time, she also interned with Parent Promise.
“During my internship, I learned how compassionate and caring the people at Parent Promise are,” she said. “How much they want every parent to succeed in giving their children safe, loving and nurturing lives.”
There have still been setbacks along the way; however, LaTrenda believes Parent Promise helped her gain confidence to overcome those setbacks.
“This was a program that offered me the opportunity to give my children a life I didn’t have. And, when I find a program that promises to help me give my children a better life than I had, I’m all over that!”
LaTrenda was able to finish her degree at the University of Central Oklahoma, and was excited to learn of a job opening for a Parent Educator with the very program that helped her and her family. She joined the Parent Promise staff in July. She brings a unique perspective for her clients because she has experienced many of the same adversities they have.
LaTrenda has come full circle with Parent Promise, said Executive Director Sherry Fair.
“She can relate to her families in a special way, and that is very valuable for our client families who have gone through a number of crises and don’t have confidence that there is hope ahead,” Fair said. “LaTrenda is a living example that cycles can be broken and families can have loving and nurturing homes.”
“I feel like I raised myself,” LaTrenda said. “No one ever fought for me. I had to fight for myself. I know I do not want my children to grow up feeling like that. And now, I can help my clients understand that there is support and help for them. There is hope.”