This month’s Leading the Way profile is on Felicia Paul, a home visitor and parent educator with the Early Foundations Home Visiting Program.
Tell us a little bit about your background…
I grew up here on the Flathead Indian reservation. I have 8 siblings, five brothers and three sisters. I have two children 22-year-old who is in college and 16-year-old who is a sophomore in high school. Don’t ask who I am related to because I’m pretty much related to everyone. I’m still blessed to have my parents with us after many years of health scares. I love that I grew up in a very traditional home that was rich with tribal languages and culture from both side of my parents. I’m Pend ’Oreille, Blackfeet, and Chippewa Cree. I have AA in Native American studies, AA and BS in elementary education, certificate in Native American studies. Right now, I serve on Salish Kootenai College Board of Directors. My hobbies are traveling, driving, beading, and powwowing. I enjoy my family and friends. My interests are in anything that can challenge me. I have a set goal to have my own business to sell all native designers clothing and fabric and to have a classroom for the public to come and learn from these designers and a dance studio.
Describe the work you do with families and children…
I can say “I’m your family personal cheerleader!” I listen to your needs and wants or vents. I help families find the resources they need and provide them with information. I try my hardest to help families become the “strong” voice in their child’s life and family and support in what the family decides in the choices they make. I encourage families to ask for help when they don’t know how too or are scared of asking.
What do you think people misunderstand about the work being done with children age 0-5?
A lot a people don’t listen to the care giver fully when it comes to children 0-5. Teaching people that they should show more respect and accept that people are just like them. Don’t treat others like they don’t know anything about their family or life. Everyone’s voice matters. We are the guides to others and learn with them.
How would you describe the most important work that needs to happen for young children?
The most important work with young child is the care givers having a strong voice for them and support in guiding them.
If you could change one social factor impacting families and young children what would it be and why?
I would finance and getting over not asking for help because if I ask for help for my family that would open doors that I get scared of opening or not getting the help that I’m needing or wanting for my family.
The works has many rewards-what are some of the challenges and how do you deal with them?
I have to tell myself on the challenges that we are all given the same choices and how we each make decisions has its own kind of answer. People have to live with what answer is given. I can’t force someone into making what I think are the right choices or choose for them. I want them.
What do you feel you personally get from working with families and children?
I personally feel the family strength and growth on my own huge road map of life….