The Santiago/Mota Family

Healthy Families


Rosa learned what it meant to take care of others at a very young age. Her mother died when she was only three years old and, by the age of 12, Rosa bore much of the responsibility for her younger siblings’ care.


With alcohol and physical abuse present in the home, Rosa made the decision to live on her own at 14. Rosa met Roberto a few years later and the two were excited to be welcoming their son, Manuel, to the family.


Manuel, now three years old, was born prematurely and had feeding problems requiring him to stay in the hospital’s newborn intensive care unit after he was born. Once he was strong enough to go home, Southwest Human Development was there to help with that transition and immediately began providing services for Manuel and his family.


“Being pregnant and having Manuel changed my life for the better,” said Rosa Santiago, Manuel’s mom.

A family support specialist with Southwest Human Development’s Healthy Families program worked with Rosa and Roberto to develop a family plan that included a wide range of goals, resources and training for Manuel’s medical needs, as well as the family’s overall success. As Manuel began to grow, his pediatrician recommended he be fitted with a helmet to ensure the proper development of his head.


Though state services denied the family’s request for assistance, Healthy Families helped provide resources for Rosa and Roberto to become strong advocates for their son. Rosa petitioned the state five times for his helmet to be covered by the family’s insurance plan and on her sixth attempt the helmet was finally covered. After Manuel received the helmet, Rosa took the bus 25 miles each way – three times a week – to make sure the helmet was working and Manuel’s head was developing normally.


Southwest Human Development’s Healthy Families program has helped Rosa and Roberto beyond the immediate needs of their son.


With only a sixth grade education, Rosa wanted to further her education. The family’s program specialist was able to provide Rosa with the guidance and resources she needed to enroll in an education program where she received her high school diploma and graduated with honors.


Roberto was a critical part his family’s success by providing much-needed support to Rosa, balancing his job with child care so she could focus on her education. Rosa is excited to begin a local culinary program and recently started her own event planning business where she makes cakes for weddings and special events. The family also moved to a new home that is closer to Manuel’s preschool and where she has more room for her ever-expanding business.

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