A teacher entered my office during recess on Tuesday to ask me to do a lice check on one of her kids. Sure enough, when the girl visited me shortly afterward, I could see from a distance why: her hair was *covered* with nits. Gross. I called her mom, thankfully reached her, and mom said she was on her way. When I went to the secretary to let her know this girl would be leaving, the secretary informed me she accidentally forgot to include me on an email about this girl and her sister. This was their first day at our school and at their previous school, they had an over 50% absence rate due to lice. Crap. When mom arrived, I asked her if she had heard of Healthy Start - something I realized I really need to get better about explaining. I faxed the referral to Healthy Start and scribbled their number on a piece of scratch paper for the mom "just in case." Stupidly, I hadn't pulled the girl's sister out of class to check her then, so I just sent the girl and mom out the door after a little chat about lice. At lunchtime, the girl's sister's teacher came to me and asked to do a lice check on her as well. Not surprisingly, she was loaded too. Again I called mom and again she said she was on her way. When she arrived, she told me she had called Healthy Start and that they said they got my referral and would call her back shortly.
For emphasis, let me repeat: this mother had called Healthy Start. My heart swelled! A parent that cared!! I can think of two other parents - in all my parent encounters at this job - in which the parent really tried for their child. I was beyond thrilled, and even if they still have repeated absences, I consider it a huge success that I a) initiated and made a referral all by my big girl self (a first!) and b) the parent actually worked for it too. To top it off, I got an email the next day from Healthy Start confirming they had helped this family.
It's premature to call this a triumph, I'll have to see how their attendance record goes. Still, even the smallest of triumphs, because they are so few and far between, are some kind of wonderful.