When Dayleasha Brown, 22, found out she was expecting, she was nervous.
“I didn’t know if I could do it,” she recalls. “I'm a first time mom. I was crying.”
At six months pregnant, she signed up for some programs while at a health clinic, and the next day, she got a call from a Family Support Worker at DRU/Mondawmin Healthy Families (DRUM).
It’s been two years, and her daughter Sa-Mija is surpassing milestones and Dayleasha is one test away from earning her associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Baltimore City Community College. Dayleasha says DRUM has been instrumental in her success.
“I was so scared [about becoming a parent], but Ms. Linda [my DRUM Family Support Worker] talked me through it and let me know that I can get through this,” Dayleasha explains.
Ms. Linda visits the new mom at home once a week, but Dayleasha says she calls her support worker every day to talk out her feelings and get creative ideas to engage Sa-Mija. She also leans on Ms. Linda to handle the stress of Sa-Mija’s medical issues.
“I cry when I think about [her medical issues], and it’s amazing because Sa-Mija cries with me. She feels my pain,” Dayleasha says. “But I just love the support I get from this program to get through it.”
Linda says Dayleasha has grown so much since she met her two years ago.
“She is advocating for herself more,” she says. “I feel like a mother whose flower has blossomed. She is an independent woman and I’m so proud of her.”
The Baltimore-native attends DRUM’s play groups and family support meetings.
“I was shy when I first came, but now I love it because it gives me more help, and when I'm going through something, I know I can call anybody in here."
She says one day, mothers in the program met up to vent while DRUM staffers looked over the children.
“We can talk about how we feel, we can cry about it, and we can get everything off our chests,” Dayleasha says. “And my baby has gotten used to the people here. She sees Ms. Linda and she laughs with her-- makes faces.”
Dayleasha stays home full-time with Sa-Mija, and Ms. Linda has been giving tips on teaching her the “ABC’s,” numbers, and tracing.
“She can say her whole name now, and she knows it when she sees it written down,” Dayleasha says proudly. “She is learning something different every day.”
“I thought coming here would be hard, but all we are doing is learning stuff for our babies instead of having to find out on our own.”
She has advice for mothers who might be apprehensive about the program: “Every time you think it's hard, you make it harder for yourself,” she says. “I learned that from Ms. Linda.”
Dayleasha’s next step is looking for a job opportunity at a daycare and moving to a new house this year.
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