Thursday, June 25, 2015

Building relationships from the ground up

by Zinta Aistars
Published in SW Michigan's Second Wave Media
June 25, 2015

Israel Flores (Photo by Susan Andress)

You’ll find him on the floor, playing among the children. Israel Flores, family coach for Battle Creek’s Early Childhood Connection since 2011, is happiest there.

Working with children and their parents wasn’t Flores’ first job in the United States. Born in Mexico City, when he immigrated to the U.S. at age 22, Flores first lived in Ann Arbor and worked in the food industry. He moved to Battle Creek around the time he married, and when he heard of a job opening with the Early Childhood Connection (ECC) for a family coach, his heart sang.

"I love working with kids! You could say I’m like a kid myself," he says. "When ECC advertised that they were more interested in finding someone with a passion for working with children rather than experience, I thought I could make an impact."

With his bilingual language skills and first-hand knowledge of the Latino community culture, paired with his knack for working with kids, Flores was hired.

"I’m like a kid magnet," he says. "Sometimes families need that extra support, and I wanted to provide that."

Early Childhood Connections, part of the Calhoun County Great Start Collaborative, provides welcome baby baskets to new parents, home visits, and playgroups for families with children from birth to 5 years old in Battle Creek. Family coaches partner with parents to help them raise children who are safe, healthy, and ready to succeed in school and in life.

Flores, who has since moving to Battle Creek now has two sons of his own (and two dogs), and he says he's sharpened some of his coaching skills with his own family. 

"I work out some of my own emotions as a father with my boys," Flores says. "I don’t go into homes as some kind of professional who knows everything. None of us are better than anyone else. That’s why I sit on the floor, at kid-level, when I go into someone’s home, and I invite parents to sit on the floor, too."

Flores is skilled at connecting with both the children in the home and the parents, helping both sides to connect and enjoy each other’s company. Since beginning his job as a family coach, Flores has ...


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