video call screen capture of Early Head Start teacher and child

Cataleya participates through the Tampa Y’s Early Head Start program virtually with her teacher during the pandemic. 

When schools closed in March, the Tampa Y’s Early Head Start program had to turn to other forms of communications to keep parents and their children engaged with learning.  

“During the pandemic, our program has served 75 families in which 17 contracted providers provided virtual learning through several different platforms to accommodate each family. Contracted providers would sing songs, teach colors, shapes, participate in music and movement as well as read stories to children,” says Senior Program Director Tonina Rodriguez.

One of those children was 27-month-old Cataleya. “Cataleya’s parent and grandmother were very pleased with the work Norelis Gonzalez was doing during our Virtual Learning,” Tonina says. Norelis is a contracted provider for the Tampa Metropolitan Area YMCA/Early Head Start Program.

“As a parent we always have a fear of ‘what are the kids doing at school’ or ‘I wonder if she’s giving her teacher a hard time?’ I'm pretty sure others feel the same but, with Norelis, it’s so different,” says Cataleya’s mother, Dixy Salmeron. “She really treats Cataleya like family. It really brightens Cataleya's day to see Norelis at least through the virtual school. I am glad the teachers are engaged in some type of way.”

The Tampa Y EHS is a delegate agency of the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners Head Start/Early Head Start program. The Y’s goal is to partner with family childcare homes and provide full-day, full-year comprehensive services to children and their families, from birth to three years old. Learn more about the Early Head Start program.