Making a house call
Home visitation programs bring aid to vulnerable Shelby children
After three years, Cassandra Ruffin knows the first rule of visiting the Dennard family.
“You cannot come into this home with only one book,” Ruffin said.
So although she’s there specifically to check in on 3-year-old Ja’Mykal, she arrives at the Oakhaven town home with a bag of children’s books for the boy and his two older siblings.
The three children sit on the edge of a tan couch and the carpeted living room floor, tearing into a picture book about a bumpy pumpkin and a Disney-themed alphabet paperback. Their mother, 33year-old medical assistant Shante Dennard, helps Ja’Mykal turn the pages and reads aloud to him.
It’s that interaction that Ruffin wants to see between Dennard and her children.
Ruffin is a parent educator with Porter-Leath, an early childhood organization in Shelby County. She’s known the Women hit streets to turn up heat on Republicans.
Casandra Ruffin and Ja-Mykal Dennard play with a ball during a home visit.
Shante Dennard, with her son Ja-Mykal, listens to Cassandra Ruffin during a home visit.