Head Start celebrates MLK Day

Head Start celebrates MLK Day Head Start celebrates Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his legacy year round by working towards his vision for racial equality. Head Start is a living example of the legacy of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, and as a united Head Start field, we continue to create equitable access to opportunity for all children. The promise of Head Start children like Cade Janise, seen here delivering Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech at Bingman Head Start, reminds us of how important this responsibility is. The Civil Rights Movement was more than ten years of unified action against racism and discrimination in America. Dr. King and other Civil Rights leaders propelled America forward, bringing about change that advanced equity and human rights, but, undoubtedly, we still have far to go. In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we choose to read and reflect on Dr. King’s words in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail: “We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right. Now is the time to make real the promise of democracy and transform our pending national elegy into a creative psalm…

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Program of Excellence: Hillsborough County Head Start/Early Head Start

Program of Excellence: Hillsborough County Head Start/Early Head Start Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) Head Start/Early Head Start has been a National Head Start Association Program of Excellence for more than two decades. Their broad reach and innovative partnerships provide Florida families with the highest quality services. One of Hillsborough County’s Head Start partnerships is with Metropolitan Ministries, an organization supporting individuals experiencing homelessness. “This is a great partnership,” says LaVonne Malphus-Nelson, Manager of Family and Community Engagement and Program Governance Administration for Hillsborough County Head Start/Early Head Start Department. “The families enrolled in theHead Start and/or Early Head Start program reside at Metropolitan Ministries and our center is housed in their facility. As partners, we work together with the families on reaching self-sufficiency. This is accomplished by providing the families with training on parenting classes, budgeting, GED classes, counseling services, employment assistance, etc. With this partnership and collaboration, we are working together in meeting the families’ needs all in one location, no matter how serious their needs are.” To ensure continuity of care, families who move into permanent housing from Metropolitan Ministries can remain at the Head Start program at Metropolitan Ministries or transfer to one of…

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Touchpoint: Developing Trust

Touchpoint: Developing Trust Can you believe it’s 2022? Here we are back for a new year, so it’s time for a new Touchpoint. We are going to start the year off with a topic that’s near and dear: trust. I firmly believe, if trust is at the center of your organization’s value system, of your classrooms, and in your work with children, parents, and staff, you will be successful. This Month’s Theme: Developing Trusting Relationships As you know, NHSA takes the value of trust very seriously. We believe it is our job to create a trusting relationship with you. When a program joins NHSA as a member, everybody related to that program is also a member of NHSA: from teachers to bus drivers, kitchen staff to front office staff. We all come together and we work toward a common goal, whether it’s securing higher compensation, funding trauma informed care, updating eligibility policy so you can reach more families, renovating facilities. Our trusting relationship with you is foundational to this work— it’s what enables us to grow and serve families and children who need it most in this country. Through listening to your voices on a regular basis, NHSA is able…

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EHS increases involvement among fathers

EHS increases involvement among fathers In South Carolina at Vital Connections of the Midlands Early Head Start center, fathers are front and center. “Too many times, we see mothers receiving all of the communication and information about their children and ways they can support these critical developmental years,” says Jerome Thompson, fatherhood specialist for Share Head Start/Early Head Start and the South Carolina State Head Start Association. “This lack of sharing information ultimately leads to a lack of education and, therefore, involvement. We have become so maternally focused, we take for granted when a dad is there.” Research shows that children who grow up with an involved father as well as an involved mother receive significant benefits, including stronger cognitive and motor skills; elevated levels of physical and mental health; decreased behavioral issues or acts of violence; better problem-solving skills; and more confidence, curiosity, and empathy, sensitivity, and self-control. As they grow, children with involved fathers are also more likely to stay in school, excel, and go on to college. But according to 2020 U.S. Census data, one in four children in America lives in a home where their father does not reside, and the number of children who live…

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Alumni Spotlight: Dr. John Wallace

Alumni Spotlight: Dr. John Wallace “I am from Homewood, a predominantly African American neighborhood in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Homewood is where I was enrolled in Head Start in 1967. Like many other neighborhoods across the country, it was once a vibrant place to live; however, it has suffered the downward spiral that happens due to decades of disinvestment. For so many kids in my neighborhood, the value of education was not in question. The barriers were the lack of opportunity and access. Attending Head Start gave me a boost to cross some of those barriers, energizing an inner zeal for learning. After high school, I earned a bachelor’s degree at the University of Chicago and then a master’s and a Ph.D.from the University of Michigan—all in sociology. I settled in Michigan and began my career and family. An opportunity arose to join the faculty at the University of Pittsburgh. At that time, I had spent my career committed to researching the social and economic challenges that disproportionately impact neighborhoods like Homewood. It made sense to accept the post. It allowed me to return home, leverage my work in higher education, and mobilize resources and interventions to strengthen and create more opportunities…

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One Early Head Start Mother to All New Mothers: “I’m so proud of you!”

One Early Head Start Mother to All New Mothers: “I’m so proud of you!” New mothers today are inundated with information. And now with social media, where almost half of parents of newborns turn for information, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. “When I became a mom, I was on my own trying to figure it out. I was head down and focused on graduating so I could be more for kids. Once I graduated and had more children, I wanted to learn as much as possible and correct the things I didn’t know in the beginning,” says Tineisha Cooper, a mother of eight and participant in Hamilton, Ohio’s Early Head Start program. Tineisha became a first-time mom at 16. Though she was married, she found that she needed additional support and a trusted, go-to source for information. Tineisha, who’d grown up without her own mother in her life, says she quickly realized that there were gaps when it came to her understanding of how to raise a child. She knew she needed to grow her network of support. “And it’s more than just making sure (my children are) fed and healthy,” says Tineisha. “I knew that I could be more,…

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Children’s Access to Healthcare Head Start Benchmark and Trends Report

Children’s Access to Healthcare Head Start Benchmark and Trends Report Poverty too often goes hand-in-hand with poor health and limited access to necessary medical services—likewise, children’s access to healthcare varies enormously across the country. NHSA’s Health Benchmark and Trends Report examines the relationship between poverty, race, and geography, revealing the impact of common barriers. The report is a five-year follow-up NHSA’s first nationwide survey focused on understanding access to and support of health services for children and families. The report examines the factors blocking Head Start children’s access to healthcare. In addition to a special look at prenatal to three health, central findings are organized into five categories: providers, screenings, mental health care, dental care, and social determinants of health. Providers Pediatricians and prenatal/postpartum care providers are the most available, with approximately 70% of respondents reporting most or all families can access providers who accepted their insurance. Access to specialists is more limited, with fewer than 40% reporting most or all families can access mental health providers. Screenings Approximately 70% of respondents report providing screenings themselves, with another 15-25% reporting they do some screenings while pediatricians do others. Approximately 30% of respondents report, even when health providers perform hearing and…

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Families Experiencing Poverty on Journey to Financial Stability

Families Experiencing Poverty on Journey to Financial Stability Family Service Worker Michelle Myers has seen firsthand how Early Head Start helps families experiencing poverty lift themselves out of poverty once they have the resources and support they need to reach their goals. “Having at least one trusting and supportive person can make a world of difference,” she says. As a family service worker with the Community Action Partnership’s (CAP) Thrive to Five initiative, Michelle says she helps families determine and achieve their goals, stays in regular contact with families, assists with program logistics, like enrollment, and advocates for families by serving as a liaison with child care centers or others as needed. “My top priority is to make sure families feel heard and respected while also providing the support they need,” says Myers, who works for the Lancaster-Lebanon Intermediate Unit 13 (IU13), which partners with CAP to deliver Early Head Start Services. “My goal is to always establish a trusting relationship with each family and be present with them.” Stable, affordable, high-quality child care is essential to families’ economic stability. Consistent, high-quality care allows parents and caregivers to work and provides learning opportunities for children during a critical window for…

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Defining Diaper Need with Joanne Goldblum

Defining Diaper Need with Joanne Goldblum Diaper need is the inability to access an adequate supply of diapers and it is a silent crisis in America. Early Head Start addresses the diaper needs of over 200,000 children and families each year and supports policies and programs that provide one of the most basic needs of all babies and their families: access to clean, dry diapers. In this video interview Kent Mitchell, NHSA’s senior director of State Affairs, speaks with CEO of the National Diaper Bank Network and author of Broke in America: Seeing, Understanding, and Ending U.S. Poverty Joanne Goldblum. The National Diaper Bank Network (NDBN) is made up of over 250 independent non-profit diaper banks. Progress is being made shares Joanne, including removing state sales tax, federal legislation, and more. Since its founding in 2011, the NDBN has worked to better understand the consequences of diaper need. Today, NDBN is engaged in and supports research that increases understanding of the impact, accessibility and equitable distribution of material basic necessities among individuals, children and families living in poverty. Kent Mitchell Kent Mitchell is NHSA’s senior director of State Affairs. Related Content Early Head Start Rising Millions of infants and toddlers…

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Touchpoint: Balancing the Holidays

Touchpoint: Balancing the Holidays Each month, NHSA Touchpoint shares insights into our latest work to support your programs, our community’s accomplishments and special events, and a love note or two. This month, we are taking a look at balancing the holidays for children and Head Start staff. (Last month, we talked about early nutrition.) This Month’s Theme: Balancing the Holidays The holidays are supposed to be joyful. It’s a time to celebrate. We get together with family and there are so many traditions that are rich in each of our lives. For some kiddos and families, the holidays can be less than joyful. We don’t want to deny children, and ourselves, and our staff the opportunity to celebrate and recognize a fun time of year. Here are some thoughts on how to find balance between the joy and challenges our children and their families are experiencing. Schedules and Routines Children thrive off consistency. Being aware of the needs of children and families is what Head Start does best. This time of year, it’s particularly important to think which children and families might need some extra support. Promoting Resilience through Mindfulness Promote resilience in whatever way you can, whether that’s through a…

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