Monday, May 18th is the 50th Anniversary of President Lyndon B. Johnson's announcement of the founding of the Head Start program. This week we are featuring blog posts by Head Start alumni who celebrate the role the program has played in their lives or in the lives of their children. Monday, May 18th is the 50th Anniversary of President Lyndon B. Johnson's announcement of the founding of the Head Start program. This week we are featuring blog posts by Head Start alumni who celebrate the role the program has played in their lives or in the lives of their children.
Four months ago I was thrilled to meet with Congressman David Rouzer in his Washington, DC office to share my family’s life changing experience at the Telamon Clinton Head Start and Early Head Start Center. Back in January, he accepted my invitation to visit Clinton so he could see for himself how the teachers and staff are helping struggling families in our community.
Representative Rouzer came through on his promise, taking the time to take a tour of the center, read to the children, and listen to the stories of parents whose lives have been transformed by Head Start.
Certainly for me, Clinton Head Start has changed my family’s life. As a single mother raising three girls, I struggled to hold a job because I could not afford reliable daycare for my daughters. So when I heard about the local Head Start and Early Head Start program, I immediately enrolled all three of my children.
Little did I know then that Head Start was much more than reliable daycare— it has transformed our lives.
Vast research shows that quality early learning is absolutely critical in a child’s early developmental years, and indeed the early childhood education services at Clinton Head Start were life changing for my girls. The program provided developmental, social, and emotional support that ensured they would enter Kindergarten ready to succeed. I saw my youngest daughter, who suffered from stranger anxiety before entering Head Start, blossom as she interacted with her Head Start teachers and classmates. My daughters were provided basic health and dental screenings, as well as nutritious meals. We saw major improvements in their speech, behavior and overall school readiness.
My daughters weren’t the only ones to benefit from our experience at Clinton Head Start. Head Start believes strongly that parents, as their child’s first teachers, are a program’s most important partners. The teachers and professionals working at Clinton Head Start engaged me from day one, giving me the tools and resources I needed to be a better mother and member of my community. I felt more prepared than ever to give my family a better life, and I wanted to pay this forward and help other parents in my community who were facing similar challenges. Today, I am an active parent advocate and President of the Policy Council. I was even honored as Parent of the Year by the North Carolina Head Start Association.
Congressman Rouzer’s visit comes at a momentous time, as Head Start celebrates its 50th birthday this month. Over the past half century, 32 million young lives have been transformed by Head Start’s approach – getting low-income children ready for Kindergarten and helping families realize the American Dream.
The teachers and professionals at Clinton Head Start not only empowered us as a family, they have become family. It means so much that Congressman Rouzer has taken time out of his busy schedule to come see the amazing work being done here. I urge Representative Rouzer to take the message back to Washington that Head Start works, and investing in Head Start means investing in our future.