October is Head Start Awareness Month
It was 1973 when my son went to Head Start. At that time I volunteered in the classroom
so I could learn to deal with his behaviors.
His teacher Lila Hedlund was excellent with him and myself. She was an excellent role model. After the bus picked him up one morning I
went to Head Start(located in the Lutheran Memorial Church) and the phone was
ringing off the hook, Kay Hammond answered one and asked me to answer the other
that started a 25 year relationship with Head Start. Kay hired me to be the secretary/
bookkeeper. The secretary part was easy
the bookkeeping not so easy. I barely
balanced my checkbook let alone Federal books.
So in January of 1974 I quit BUT that day one of the teacher “aides”
quit also and Kay asked me to fill in in that room. I did and loved it. I worked on my CDA and got it, moved into
teacher position a couple of years later.
During this time Head Start moved a lot: Lutheran memorial needed their
class rooms back, we moved to what is now the Cattleman’s restaurant , that building was falling down we
went to the City Auditorium(which has since been torn down), that was deemed
unsafe as we were in the basement with only one way out! Then we moved in next to Kozy Korner restaurant , Boys & Girls Club and then
into a brand new building. I continued
my Head Start education and in 1984 they started Home Visiting. I was the first Home Visitor, then Cindy
Malsom joined me and that program took off.
I moved into supervisor of 6 home visitors covering 6 counties. Moving on was a hard decision but it was
time. My heart can still be found there
somewhere and now my granddaughter is attending and I volunteer once a week to
help with lunch.
Wonderful training opportunities, great friendships were
established and being with the children keeps you young. I still meet my former Head Start students
(who now have children attending Head Start) at the store, fast food eateries
etc., that is what makes me love Head Start – you leave such a lasting
Head Start is the nation’s leading investment in early childhood care and education, and promotes school readiness through the enhancement of social and cognitive development by providing education, health, nutrition, social, and family support services. Parents are respected as the primary educators and nurturers of their children and are encouraged to be actively involved in their child’s education and growth.
South Dakota Head Start programs are federally funded with no State funds appropriated for support. Programs are monitored intensively to assure quality and adherence to provisions of the Head Start Act. 20% of the total funding for Head Start programs must come from the community. 90% of children enrolled in Head Start must meet Federal Poverty guidelines. 10% of enrollment must be available to children with disabilities.
The dollar investment in Head Start programs has a high rate of return. For each dollar invested in Head Start, there is an economic gain of $7-$10. Some research suggests it could be as much as $17. This is realized in reduced expenses of grade retention, special education services, and a higher earning potential and economic success in adulthood, thus reducing dollars needed for welfare and the criminal justice system.