Building Bonds and Breaking Barriers: Dominga Barrios’ Story of Purposeful Parenting

July 9, 2024

Little feet come running as Gaby De Loza, a home visitor with Venice Family Clinic’s Early Head Start Program (EHS), steps up to the front door. Dominga Barrios’ three-year-old daughter, Deborah, beams and claps her hands, then immediately insists that Gaby sit and read their favorite book, a tradition established after a year of weekly visits. As Deborah sings along, Dominga gratefully watches her daughter’s excitement, remembering a time not so long ago when she worried that her daughter wouldn’t be able to form friendships like the one she shares with Gaby.

Deborah was born with Trisomy 21, or Down’s Syndrome, and faced significant developmental challenges with her motor function, behavioral regulation and speech. “I was very stressed,” Dominga recalls. “Caring for my daughter was hard. There was so much I didn’t know, and I was afraid of failing her.”

Overwhelmed by the demands of balancing her work schedule and Deborah’s care, Dominga was initially hesitant to enroll in the Clinic’s EHS program. A year later, she can’t imagine where their lives would be without it.

Learning and Growing Together

The Clinic’s Early Head Start is a comprehensive program for families with children from birth to 3 years old and pregnant people. It promotes well-being by strengthening bonds between parent and child, providing access to affordable health care and connecting families to essential community resources.

One component of the program is Abriendo Puertas, or Opening Doors, a parenting course run by Early Head Start educators which offers a culturally relevant curriculum teaching essential skills in leadership, advocacy, early childhood development and social-emotional well-being. With Gaby’s guidance, Dominga enrolled and began to learn how to advocate for Deborah’s needs, secure vital therapy services, incorporate educational play and manage her own stress to support Deborah’s emotional health.

Dominga started to apply the skills she learned from Abriendo Puertas into her family’s everyday life and quickly saw a difference in her daughter. “She started to thrive. Deborah is learning to be patient and to play with other children. She’s started to love books and she’s even learning to dance.” Dominga smiles, “I have so much hope for my daughter’s future.”

The Power of Purposeful Parenting

With the support of the Early Head Start program and Gaby’s guidance, Dominga has transformed her approach to parenting. She has become a confident advocate for Deborah’s needs and a beacon of hope for other parents in her community. Thanks to Dominga’s new skills and Gaby’s support, Deborah is now enrolled in occupational, physical and speech therapy. Her progress continues to inspire her entire care team. “Deborah’s growth and Dominga’s dedication are amazing,” shares Gaby, “It’s an honor to be a part of their lives.”

Dominga is certain the comprehensive support from Venice Family Clinic has made a tangible difference in their lives. “The Clinic has given us so much help and hope,” Dominga reflects. “Deborah is happier and healthier, and now I feel I can be the mother she deserves.”

Click here to learn more about Early Head Start.