Elva Mendoza, a CDA Scholar, with four kids

Elva Mendoza: A CDA Scholar Success Story

For over 20 years, Elva Mendoza has been working as a home provider and caring for her children. Mendoza is a Child Development Associate (CDA) Scholar, a Family Child Care Provider, and is in the process of becoming a Quality First participant home with help from First Things First.

Mendoza’s story first began when her daughter was two years old, and Mendoza saw how much she was needed by her children. Her daughter and three other biological children asked their mom to stay home and not leave them for long hours while she was at work. Torn between needing to provide for her family but also wanting someone there for her children, Mendoza left her children with a family member. 

However, Mendoza noticed there were no age-appropriate materials or toys to help her children developmentally. This inspired Mendoza to attain her family child care license in the state of Washington and to have her children home with her for six years. Mendoza later moved with her family to Arizona and obtained her license here. 

Mendoza researched how to improve her situation and found a grant that helped her improve her yard and purchase materials for her group home. Mendoza said she feels fortunate because she found a program, Empoderamiento (Empower), that has opened her mindset to new possibilities.

Mendoza said she appreciates her Quality First Coach with United Way for supporting her with the tools needed to improve her home to become a high quality environment for the children in her care. Mendoza said her coach has motivated her and provided guidance in areas such as taking computer classes, opening up the group home, and registering for a CDA scholarship! Mendoza started the CDA CCEI Pathway in January 2024, and she is focused and determined to achieve her goal of completing the courses in six to nine months. 

Mendoza also said the CDA is a benefit that has already greatly impacted her. She feels over the long term that it will help her to grow and learn in many new ways. The courses have given her the confidence to implement new strategies and ideas into her routines with the children in her care.  

One of Mendoza’s daughters has also applied for a CDA scholarship, and the two of them are planning on working together in the group home. They said that they would like to continue their education and attain their AA after they complete a CDA. Mendoza would like to get a degree in Early Childhood Special Education, and her daughter would like to get her degree in Early Childhood Education and a related field.

Mendoza shared that the Arizona Early Childhood Workforce Registry has been helpful, and she’s glad her daughter supports her with navigating the registry.

In the end, Mendoza said when she completes her CDA credentials, she would like to use her incentive money to take a small vacation and put the rest towards her group home.

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