3/18/2019 Part 25 Claire’s Story: What would she do without Head Start?
By A. Hosack, P. Berman, & K. Hecht
Davy had been going to Head Start for months now; sometimes he fussed getting ready, but he always seemed happy when he got off the bus at the end of the day. Claire has been going to some parenting programs Head Start offered on the weekends. She was learning a lot and had begun to trust Davy’s teachers and the program–they really understood kids!
When Claire thought back on the night when Larry hurt Davy, she felt that all the problems were caused by Larry’s lack of understanding of normal child development. Claire understood why Larry felt Davy was spoiled; she was sure both her parents would agree. But the more she learned, the more she was sure that she and Larry had parents who didn’t have a clue how to understand their own children. She hadn’t come around to understanding that she and Larry were abused by their parents, but she did, once and a while, wish she and Larry had been given the opportunity to go to Head Start when they were kids. If they had, maybe now she, Davy, and Larry would be a happy family.
It was sad that Larry didn’t know how great his son was doing at school. His teachers were always sending good reports home of how Davy was listening and learning at school. She had seen his growth herself when she took her turn volunteering in the classroom.
It isn’t easy to take care of babies who need everything from their caregivers and can’t give anything substantial back in return. Babies wake up repeatedly during the night to be fed or changed, so caregivers must deal with a one-way exchange of resources while being very tired. Young, single parents like Claire are facing even greater stressors because they didn’t plan to have a child and they don’t have a loving partner and family to support them. Claire and Larry are parents at the highest risk for abuse because they didn’t learn anything about healthy parenting as they were growing up in abusive families. Instead, they only learned to hide, scream, or hit.
Claire is fortunate Child Protective Services was able to find her foster parents; there are very few foster families that will take adolescents and even fewer who will take adolescents and their children. Claire is also fortunately Head Start had room for Davy; while, Head Start has been found effective in helping children and parents- it is underfunded so currently reaches only 50% of eligible children (www.NAEYC.org). Funding Head Start does have a direct cost to taxpayers, but research has documented that for every $1 invested in preschool services, the US economy saves approximately $7 in later indirect costs from the impact of child abuse and neglect. To learn more, you can visit: https://www.ed.gov/budget14/faqs/early-learning, https://www.nber.org/papers/w13016.pdf)
Mr. Carson didn’t need to read research on Head Start. He had seen with his own eyes the changes in both Davy and Claire in the short time they had participated. He was on his church board and they were often looking for good causes to support. He decided to talk about Head Start at the church meeting the next day; maybe they would help fund the local program so it could help more families?
Mr. Carson was doing a form of social advocacy that might really help other poor parents like Claire and Davy.
Would you support spending money in support of Head Start if you were on the church board?
Do you belong to any organizations that might help support a local Head Start? Speaking to the board of an organization can be nerve wracking. But on the other hand, Head Start is effective and needs money. Consider taking a step to help the many Claire’s of the world by speaking up wherever you can.