by Maéva Renaud She/Her/hers Community Organizer
In 1982, October was designated National Head Start Awareness month by President Ronald Reagan. According to NHSA, “Head Start is the national commitment to give every child, regardless of circumstances at birth, an opportunity to succeed in school and in life. In the 50 years since its inception, Head Start has improved the lives of more than 32 million children and their families”. Kidango is a part of the Head Start community and we have seen firsthand how the holistic, multi-generational approach of Head Start is changing lives and giving families hope.
As the new Community Organizer at Kidango, I’ve been enjoying the opportunity to get to know the parents in our Head Start and Early Head Start programs. At one of our Abriendos Puertas trainings’, I met Veronica, a Head Start parent at our Decoto Center in Union City. After I told her about the organizing work that we’re doing to make sure that the voices of our parents and teachers are heard and valued, Veronica was delighted to talk about how Head Start benefited her family. She even made suggestions on how we can improve. Here’s what she had to say about her experience. #HeadStartStoryCA #HeadStartAwareness
“When I came to this country, I was all by myself. No family or friends. I was a single parent and very afraid for my situation. Kidango has helped me a lot. It was hard for me as a single mom. I went to adult school to learn English and it was my teacher that helped me get my daughter into Kidango’s Head Start program. With that opportunity, I was able to go to college and earn my associate degree for preschool. With that, I was able to get my first job as a preschool teacher. Thanks to Kidango, I had the opportunity to be a full-time student and make sure my daughter is safe. When you know that your kids are in good hands, you can do better things. I wasn’t worried anymore because I had help.
My children have been with Kidango for over 2 years. For my son, he currently has speech problems and a little autism. I noticed that at Kidango, he learns rules, he talks more, and he tells me his numbers and letters. I think Kidango has really good teachers that help kids learn more. They helped him with his knowledge, his language, and his behavior. My daughter was a very good student. She was very active and the teachers helped her with her behavior. One of the teachers was very patient with her. She always felt loved. It makes a big difference for families.
I love all the teachers. I wish they were better at communicating with me about my child. I think moms want to know how their child’s day goes. If we could improve communication between teachers and parents, that would be great. I participated in the Abiendos Puertas training and I thought it was really good because it helps us be better parents and protect the future of our kids.”
I was really amazed by her story and how descriptive she was about the programs’ effect on her children. Having high-quality programming that is affordable for parents is essential in California. I’m glad that here at Kidango, we are able to serve 550 children in our Head Start and Early Head Start centers. As families continue to grow throughout our communities, we want to make sure that accessing child care and preschool isn’t a barrier. That is why I am excited to be a part of the Kidango Policy and Advocacy team. We want to make sure that the voices of our parents and teachers are heard by those making decisions for funding Head Start, child care, and preschool programs.
What’s your story? #HeadStartStoryCA