Caption: Young alumni from GLEAMNS Human Resources Commission, Inc.’s Head Start program in South Carolina stand up for kids! Click here for more photos.
One of Head Start’s foundational beliefs is that parents are their children’s first teachers, and last week Head Start and Early Head Start parents across the country taught their children an important lesson about democracy and advocacy. In the coming months, as programs implement cuts caused by sequestration, an estimated 70,000 children will lose their access to Head Start’s comprehensive services. Those children may be too young to understand exactly what a “sequester” is, but they know what it means to not get to go to school – and in many communities, they’re learning what it means to take action.
On Friday, March 15th, all over the country, Head Start parents, staff, alumni, and students held “stroll-ins” at district offices of Members of Congress, armed with facts and data and personal stories of how important it is to protect services for at-risk children. Programs from Arkansas to Oregon to South Carolina to New Jersey got local media involved in telling the story of what cuts will mean, and even as communities and Congress heard an important message, so did the children. Their parents know what nearly five decades of research and experience have shown: Head Start and Early Head Start can make a significant impact on children’s readiness for school and for life, and these programs are worth fighting for. As babies clapped in their strollers and a newly-minted Head Start alum held up her sign, they were learning from their very first teachers that they are valuable and that their voices matter.
In the coming months, it will take the united action of Head Start parents, staff, and supporters around the country to keep attention on the needs of our most vulnerable children. I invite you to visit our site to learn more about what you can do to join this conversation. Our budget cannot be balanced by limiting the opportunities of poor children.