Head Start cuts hit Arkansas programs 

Parents (and research) say that early childhood education pays huge dividends for years to come, but funding challenges loom

Five years ago, Charlotte Franklin happened to see the sign for Head Start at its central office on Colonel Glenn Road. Her son Christopher was then 3 years old and was staying at home with her. Franklin had been laid off and couldn't afford childcare. She wanted to get back to work, and she also wanted her son to begin his education.

"I thought it was time for him to get in a school environment, to start to socialize with peers of his age, and get those basic fundamentals before he went to kindergarten," Franklin said.

Enrolling him in the pre-K program was one of the best decisions she's ever made, she said. "I could see the difference. His vocabulary expanded. He gained a lot of confidence. He was eager and excited about learning."

It wasn't just lessons in the classroom. Head Start offered health, dental and mental-health screenings. It provided nutritious breakfast and lunch. Teachers did home visits, and helped Franklin develop teaching and parenting skills that she could apply at home. "They helped identify things, maybe as a parent, you don't see it," she said. "You're caught up in your struggles, you're trying to provide, you're trying to keep your own emotions in check. They helped me as a parent, helped me put a plan together." Franklin and other parents were invited to come in and volunteer, and she found the teachers and staff were eager to offer support and ideas to parents, and foster connections between the classroom and home. Franklin got involved in leadership roles in Head Start's policy council, and the program also encouraged her to identify her own goals, even helping her in the process of looking for a job.

When it came time for kindergarten, Franklin said that she noticed a big difference in how Christopher adapted compared with his two older brothers, neither of whom had the pre-K programming Christopher did.

"He already had the base of what he needed when he went to kindergarten," Franklin said.

He had been taught skills like sight words, colors and counting. Equally important, Franklin said, he had a comfort and confidence in being at school, interacting with other children, and following directions from a teacher. Simple things: he was already used to using a pencil and paper, lining up, following a schedule.

Franklin said that she wished she could go back and send his brothers to Head Start too. "It was just a world of difference with his readiness for kindergarten and progressing on after that," she said. "You can really change the direction of a child's life. I can just look at it in my old household."

Christopher is set to begin third grade at eStem in the fall, where he has been on the honor roll since kindergarten. Franklin believes that pre-school helped "carve out a path in life for him. It gave him that good educational foundation."

"He would come home and say words and everyone would say, 'How does he know that word?' " she remembers. "And using them in the right context! It would amaze me. I would just think, 'wow.' Because I know: Head Start did that."

Head Start (for 3- to 5-year-olds) and Early Head Start (prenatal, infants and toddlers) are federally funded programs offering pre-school education, health and nutrition services, social and emotional development, and intensive parent support for children and their families below or near the poverty line. Head Start organizations across the nation have been hit with funding cuts imposed by sequestration, the automatic cuts that went into effect last March when Congress failed to reach a budget agreement. The White House has estimated that up to 70,000 children could lose slots in the program because of sequestration.

Comments (3)

Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

More by David Ramsey

  • Democratic party chair: Mark Martin's response to tax problems "despicable"

    Democratic Party of Arkansas Chair Vincent Insalaco released a statement today on Secretary of State Mark Martin, who appears to have improperly taken two homestead tax exemptions (only one is allowed) since at least 2008 and perhaps as far back as 2003. Martin blamed his trouble on opponents' "politics of personal destruction." Insalaco said Martin's response was "despicable."
    • Aug 18, 2014
  • Open line

    The line is open. It's yours.
    • Aug 17, 2014
  • More »

People who saved…

Readers also liked…

Most Shared

  • Michelle Duggar and the Family Council try to torpedo Fayetteville non-discrimination ordinance with lies

    The Arkansas Family Council has enlisted Michelle Duggar to oppose a Fayetteville non-discrimination ordinance with a fear-mongering robocall.
  • Fayetteville Council votes 6-2 for civil rights ordinance that protects gay, transgender people

    At 3:20 a.m. today, the Fayetteville City Council voted 6-2 to approve a historic civil rights ordinance that includes LGBT people in its umbrella of employment, housing and accommodation protections. The vote followed 10 hours of comment from 140 people and poignant testimony from gay and transgender people about discrimination they've experienced.
  • Train derailment in Hoxie kills 2; homes evacuated

    Two people were killed with two trains collided near Hwy. 67 early this morning, and State Police are evacuating residents of the southern end of the city while the trains burn. U.S. 67 south of Hoxie and U.S. 63 are closed. The trains were carrying hazardous chemicals.
  • Minimum wage group turns in nearly 70,000 additional signatures

    Give Arkansas a Raise Now, the group seeking to qualify a ballot measure to raise the state minimum wage from $6.25 to $8.50 an hour by 2017, turned in an additional 69,070 signatures to the Arkansas Secretary of State's office today.
  • American Bridge releases report on Koch brothers' environmental impacts and layoffs

    American Bridge, the liberal PAC formed by David Brock, the former Clinton foe now dedicated to round-the-clock Hillary Clinton defender, is out today with a new report on environmental impacts and layoffs from Koch Industries. The report focuses on the business activities of the Koch brothers — more famous for hundreds of millions in political spending aimed at slashing government services, regulation and taxes — in twelve states, including Arkansas. From the report: "The Kochs' extreme, self-serving agenda is bad for working families. And that reality is starkly embodied not only by their political persuasions, but by their business endeavors."

Latest in Cover Stories

Event Calendar

« »

August

S M T W T F S
  1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30
31  

Most Recent Comments

 

© 2014 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation