Daughter of a single immigrant mother, before becoming a parent of four daughters, Rocio Zumaya had the opportunity to engage and work with children at various stages in her life. At the age of ten years old, Rocio was already babysitting for other families, including one of her siblings who at that time was a special needs student. Little did she know that interpreting and translating meetings, messages, phone calls and IEP documents for her mother and other families were life skills that would be beneficial for her to be an advocate of her own children and be able to provide support to families experiencing a similar journey as a parent of a child with disabilities.
From being granted permission as a teen to coordinate youth groups and collaborate in school activities, what seemed only as fun experiences to Rocio, were in reality opportunities to learn from children with different needs and abilities. During high school, between working part time jobs in hospitality, assisting with interpretation and translation, soccer practices, school and babysitting in her spare times, Rocio realized many families were poorly underserved. After graduating high school, Rocio has continued her education by taking several courses in education, special needs, early childhood while working full time as a caregiver and volunteering during her free time. Rocio has been able to demonstrate her abilities in collaborating with many organizations by advocating for families from diverse backgrounds throughout different opportunities.
While expecting her firstborn, Rocio was confident with all she had learned during her prenatal classes. Nurturing and seeing her daughter go through every milestone as a baby was exciting until her daughter turned two years old. Rocio could sense something was different about her daughter. Although her concerns were shared and expressed with professionals and family, no one was able to really provide the right support to get the needed evaluations or a diagnosis.
As a parent of children with special needs, Rocio has used every tool in her personal experience to empower and advocate for more families who need assistance navigating from health care to getting referrals for better services. Participating in advocacy support groups, community boards, Developmental Disability councils, organizing events and activities for a diverse community, continuing education, switching careers to be an early childhood educator and being part of the LEND Parent Trainee program has been part of the gaining skill to continue engaging and serving families during work and volunteer time.
Working and serving families as a coordinator under the F2F HIC at Parent to Parent of New York State, Rocio can continue to provide support to families statewide. Her devotion is to continue helping families navigate through the proper channels with the understanding of a parent who can relate and share the sentiment parents face day by day with all the challenges that include being the parent and or caregiver of a child with disabilities, special needs and or who is medically fragile.