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Human Services Client Success Stories

Posted on: August 1, 2023

Mom Facing Cancer Finishes Nursing School


Jennalee was a newly single parent of two young children trying to survive on one income when she reached out to Maricopa County’s Human Services Department. Determined to create financial security for her family, and the best possible future for her kids, she knew she needed a helping hand.

“I remember the first time I met Jennalee,” said Terri Lee, a family support specialist with Maricopa County’s Human Services Department. “I knew she was so determined. I could see it in the way she expressed her gratitude for her present circumstances and her resilience to live out her goals.”

Jennalee’s goal was to complete a nursing program and find stable employment in a career where she could grow her earning ability. However, she was unable to afford the childcare she would need to attend school. That’s when she applied to Maricopa County’s Head Start program. Head Start is one of the few programs that supports parents who are not only needing childcare assistance so they can go to work but also so they can get an education.

A month into her nursing program, Jennalee was diagnosed with breast cancer. She would no longer just be juggling parenting and nursing school, but also surgeries and cancer treatments. 

Head Start’s extended hours and support from the team allowed Jennalee to attend school and gave her the time she needed for cancer treatments and recovery. It also gave her the extra time she needed to earn more income to provide for her family.

Jennalee graduated with an associate’s degree in nursing and was hired at a large national cancer treatment center, where she could provide care to other cancer patients. 

Jennalee was very grateful that her child was in a safe and caring learning environment at Head Start so she could focus on her own treatment. “She feels that she could not have made it through nursing school or provided for her family if she did not qualify for the program,” Terri said.

Terri added that best of all, “Jennalee continued to grow her support system within the program and expand it outside within the community to provide service to others in need.”

Jennalee’s story is one example of how Head Start can help parents build a better life for their families by providing guidance and supportive resources.  If you know a family with children under the age of 5 years who could benefit from the wraparound services provided through the Maricopa County Head Start program, we invite you to share this link: For more information on other support available through the Maricopa County Human Services Department, visit

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