Betania Pineda | Mary's Center
2023 Home Visitor of the Year Award Honoree
Betania Pineda knows firsthand the benefits of programs like home visiting. When her mom arrived in the DC area, she signed Pineda and her brother up for an early education program. Pineda credits the support that her family received with putting her on the path that led her to where she is today. “Setting those principles of success early on, encourages both the child and the parent to seek more out of life,” Pineda said. “I was able to go to college and have a profession. There are lifelong impacts of home visiting.”
Now it’s Pineda’s turn to offer that kind of opportunity to others. She joined the Healthy Families America home visiting team at Mary’s Center in February 2021. Before that, she worked as a patient navigator in Mary’s Center’s dental department. At Bowie State University, Pineda earned her degree in child and adolescent studies, which integrated elements of education, social work, psychology, and child development. Her course of study prepared her perfectly for her current role as a home visitor.
Patience and consistency are also necessary traits for home visitors. “It’s difficult to build trust and it doesn’t happen overnight,” Pineda explained. “Even if I know a mom isn’t going to schedule a call or visit. I’m still going to text and let her know I'm available and that I’m thinking of her and that she can reach out. Even if I message them for months and months and they’re not responsive, I keep trying.” Sometimes a parent who is reluctant to schedule a visit will accept an offer of a free diaper delivery from a home visitor, which provides an opportunity for the home visitor to visit, see how things are going, and offer support.
While Pineda was promoted to supervisor, she still maintains a caseload of 14 families because of increased demand for services and challenges sustaining the home visiting workforce, which has long been undervalued and underpaid by District government. Pineda has partnered with the Home Visiting Council to advocate for higher pay for the profession.
Nevertheless, Pineda is dedicated to making a difference as a home visitor. “I like helping other people. When I was growing up in Capitol Heights, I didn't see Hispanic professionals. I wanted to be that change. Now I work with a lot of Spanish-speaking families. They’re not familiar with the support that DC has to offer, so I connect them with services and help with the application processes, which are more difficult when you’re not an English speaker. With that additional support, paying their rent or buying groceries is so much easier for them.”
The reward for Pineda comes when she sees both parents and children growing together. “A lot of the parents who've been in the program now advocate for themselves and seek support. They’ve learned over time to be confident in their abilities. I want the parents to know they can achieve whatever they want, not just as parents, but in life. There are all kinds of struggles, but when you continue to fight for the best life for your family you can do so many things.”
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