At Southern Oregon Head Start, childcare reaches beyond the classroom. Our goal is that all Head Start graduates enter kindergarten happy, healthy and ready to learn. For this reason, we offer healthy meal choices, family resources, and free medical and dental screenings and care for all students.
This is Josue’s story.
During a dental screening visit to a Head Start center, our contracted dental hygienist, Melanie, brought in a four year-old boy with big brown eyes named Josue. He was very shy about having his teeth examined. Melanie gently lifted him onto the exam table and asked him to open his mouth so she could see his teeth.
She looked up at the Head Start teacher with tears in her eyes. It appeared that every tooth had severe decay. Melanie gently talked to Josue and asked if any of his teeth hurt. Josue nodded yes.
Josue was an emergency dental referral.
He needed to be seen by a dentist as soon as possible. As he was not covered by any insurance, the Head Start Health Manager contacted Dr. Frimkess, who scheduled Josue in two days.
A family advocate arranged transportation to get the child and his parents to the appointment. Dr. Frimkess found that Josue had 18 teeth that were severely decayed; some needing root canals and crowns. The total cost of the treatment would have been $3,700, but the dentist accepts our reduced fees for service, which came to $2,000.
Because Head Start funding includes a small budget for dental and medical care as “dollars of last resort” when children have no insurance, Southern Oregon Head Start paid the bill.
A smiling boy today.
After treatment, Josue’s teacher reported, “What a difference we have seen in Josue! He smiles all the time. It is such a joy to see him out of pain and playing with his friends. This little boy now talks proudly about taking care of his new teeth that don’t hurt anymore!”
Jarod’s Head Start Story
Throughout my life I have embraced countless challenges forging a rigorous path to success. As a child I was fortunate to participate in Head Start. Sadly, just two weeks after my mother proudly watched me graduate from Head Start, she suddenly died in a fatal car accident. I was forced to put my newly instilled life skills to the test.
My father was forced to raise two children under assailing circumstances. In his struggle to provide a means of support, he turned to methamphetamine. My brother and I suffered many consequences varying from lack of supervision to living in substandard shelters. We made our home in an old Oldsmobile, an abandoned metal Quonset hut, and a slew of shacks awaiting demolition. Finally after a handful of depriving years my father was imprisoned.
Living through these hardships has produced two distinct brothers. As a recipient of Head Start’s resiliency building curriculum, I was prepared for the hardships of reality. Striving to succeed, I overcame immense obstacles to consistently be at the top of my class. Unfortunately, my father neglected to enroll my brother into Head Start. This adversely affected his academics as he continually underachieved and eventually dropped out.
Jarod’s Journey Today
My involvement with Head Start continues to catapult me to success as it gave me the edge to be awarded the Oregon Community College Association “Outstanding Student Scholar.” With this award comes the unique privilege of dining with Governor Kulongoski. Another door that opened through the Head Start was when I approached Rogue Community College (RCC) to charter a club for Head Start parents. This led to becoming the Student Body President. Currently, I am pursuing a degree in Elementary Education and desire to become a fifth grade teacher.
I am extremely grateful that all of my three lovely children have benefited from this awesome agency affording them a Head Start in life. I am proud to serve Southern Oregon Head Start as the Policy Council Chairperson. I am so appreciative and thoroughly enjoy giving back to a program that has done so much for my family and me.
When Kristal enrolled in Early Head Start, she was a pregnant, single mother living with her parents because she could not afford a place to live on her own.
When her son, Riley, was born, she was so happy to show off her new baby to her EHS Specialist, Karry. Kristal appreciated having Karry there to support her and give her information and resources she wanted. Kristal talked about her dream of becoming a pre-school teacher. At that time she was on probation and was told she would never be able to work with kids. Karry encouraged her to try anyway and not give up. Kristal applied to the criminal history registry through the Child Care Division and was approved. She was so happy!
Riley in Early Head Start Today
Kristal contacted her Jobs Specialist at the Job Council to tell her she was now enrolled in the criminal history registry and then began the work experience program. This led to Kristal joining our Head Start Slide program. The EHS staff also encouraged Kristal to apply to Rogue Community College and work towards an AAS degree in early childhood education. She started taking classes in 2009 and now has 33 credits.
Kristal’s son, Riley, loves his teacher Amy’s toddler group. He enjoys playing with the other kids at EHS. He’s so excited to go to bed when he knows he gets to go to EHS the next day! He also loves the home visits when Amy comes to their house. Riley especially likes “ribbon dancing” when the toddlers all dance with ribbons on little sticks to a special song. His communication skills are off the charts and he has learned how to socialize with the other children.
Kristal will always remember the relationships she and her son have formed at EHS. They are very important to her.
I first learned about Early Head Start at the local DHS office. I had recently given birth to my daughter, Ame, and wanted to continue my college education. I expected to only go to school part-time because I could not afford full-time childcare. Then I saw a flyer about childcare at Early Head Start and asked if I would qualify. There was an opening and no co-pay. I was ecstatic! This meant I could go back to school full-time – it was a huge, huge help.
Enrolling My Children in Early Head Start
It was hard for me to get used to leaving my daughter, but when I saw she was getting great care I felt secure about leaving her. Ame really enjoyed being at EHS Merriman Center. She met her first friend Brook when they were little babies, and they are still close friends at Head Start four years later.
When I became pregnant with my son Jaithen, Ame’s EHS teacher encouraged me to enroll in their parent/child program at EHS West Medford Center. I learned infant massage and the Parent Group helped me get support from other parents. When my son Jaithen was 6 months old he joined his sister in childcare and I continued my education while working full-time as an adult caregiver. Ame was itching to go to Head Start to be with the bigger kids. Her learning ability was full-speed ahead. Six months into Head Start she could write her first and last name.
Her developmental assessments at Head Start showed she was performing at her age level. The academics came more naturally to Ame than physical development, so her teacher Linda and I set goals to increase Ame’s physical skills. Ame and Brook were in the same Head Start class and continued their friendship. Jaithen transitioned into Head Start a year later. Although I was concerned that Jaithen would not listen well, he learned all the words to the Head Start songs and made good progress with his learning.
Beyond the Classroom
Head Start was not only supportive of my goals with the kids, but also my personal goal of graduating from college. I applied for, and received, a free computer through Head Start which I really needed to write my papers. I am currently applying for a Head Start scholarship. Head Start staff helped with vision screenings and eye doctors. Both Jaithen and Ame needed glasses. According to her doctor, Ame no longer needs glasses for her far-sightedness because her vision issue was identified so early. I talked to my other family members about the importance of vision screening, and now three other kids in my extended family have gotten glasses.
My youngest daughter Citrine is now in the toddler group at EHS. She looks forward to going to school with her teacher Jenifer. Jenifer also makes home visits to our family. We do learning activities together such as making play dough, and talk about Citrine’s development. I also get help with issues I have. Jenifer is helping me create a friendly learning environment for Citrine in my home similar to the EHS classroom to help my husband and I get our work done while she plays and learns nearby. Jenifer has given me ideas about how to create this space with things I already have in my home so I don’t need to buy anything.
Jewel will be graduating from Southern Oregon University in June 2012 with a B.S. in Graphic Design. Ame will start Kindergarten next fall ready-to-learn, and Jaithen and Citrine will be in Head Start.
“I think it’s sad in this country that we put such emphasis on education but we aren’t funding it the way we need to for everybody to get a good education. I wish they had Early Head Start and Head Start available for everyone.” — Jewel supporting pregnancy
Lily was 17 years old, pregnant and living with her mother when she enrolled in Early Head Start. She asked me to be her Doula. On a home visit, we talked about the kind of birthing experience she wanted. Together we created a birth plan describing how Lily wanted to be comforted during labor and her wishes concerning medical interventions.
Lily’s Birthing Plan
As Lily’s due date approached, I spoke with her after each doctor’s appointment to see how she was feeling. Lily felt calm about her birth plan and was very excited to meet her baby! She decided to give birth naturally without pain medication because it would be the best for her baby’s health.
It wasn’t long until Lily’s labor began. As the hours went by, I used the techniques we had talked about to keep her as comfortable as possible. We took several walks through the hospital halls. I massaged her feet, legs and back. Lily did squats, took several relaxing showers, and moved her body into different laboring positions. She was incredibly determined, strong, and courageous throughout the night. After a long and hard labor 8 lb. Eduardo was born! His umbilical cord was cut and he was placed on his mother’s chest. Eduardo and Lily gazed into each others eyes. Lily was so proud of herself! She told me, “It was all worth it!” Lily’s tender handling of her new baby and their successful nursing was a beautiful sight to witness.
Caring For Her Newborn
I made a post partum visit within the first two weeks of Eduardo’s birth. I gave Lily resources on caring for a newborn and asked how she was feeling about her new role as a parent. Lily said she was feeling great and Edurado was nursing well and gaining weight. Lily’s extended family were all there beaming with pride. I asked Lily what I did as her Doula that she felt helped her the most so I can better help others. She said, “Everything! All your support was so helpful”.
Heidi Logan, Head Start parent and the 2005-2006 Parent Policy Council Chairperson, won the National Head Start Association’s Phyllis J. Jones Memorial Scholarship Award.
Awarded to one Head Start graduate each year, the $1,500 award will help Heidi continue her dream of achieving a college degree.
Heidi said she was always told as a child that low-income children couldn’t go to college. Through encouragement and support from Head Start staff, Heidi became a student in the criminology program at Rogue Community College. She plans to transfer to Southern Oregon University and become a juvenile corrections officer. Heidi wants to help kids who get in trouble to find a better path in life.
At the Southern Oregon Head Start 40th anniversary celebration in May 2006, Heidi spoke about what Head Start has meant to her.
“I am blessed and honored to be part of this wonderful celebration. This is not just a celebration of an organization but the celebration of the force of families and our strength to want our children to be better than what is expected of low income families. We may not have the money to financially help the program, but we have something better, the time and ambition to be part of our children’s education. I am proud to be a part of the Head Start family. Because of Head Start, I have been able to see something more in me that the staff saw in me long before I even knew I could do it. The staff is awesome and is there to help with whatever they can. Head Start will always be a big part of my heart and my life. May Head Start be here for another 40 years!”