Autumn believes a child’s first experience in a structured classroom sets the tone for early education years. She also believes that the first five years of a child’s life are profoundly important. They are the foundation that shapes children’s future health, happiness and development, and learning achievement at school, in the family and community, and in life in general. That’s why she enrolled her daughter, Daylee into Head Start as soon as she could after moving to the area several years ago.

The school setting is designed to give children structure and routines that are consistent. This gives children a sense of security while promoting responsibility, independence, and social interaction. The environment is set up for children to learn through play, positive interactions, communication, reasoning and problem solving, and establishing healthy behaviors.

“I thought this was a great opportunity for Daylee,” said Autumn.

Foothills’ Head Start program, started in 1966, helps economically disadvantaged children from birth to 5 years old develop educational and social skills. Head Start promotes school readiness by enhancing the social and cognitive development of children through the provision of educational, health, nutritional, social and other services to enrolled children and families. The program develops partnerships with community agencies, including public schools, to provide additional services and resources for parents and children.

Head Start works to meet each child’s individual needs. Through this early socialization and educational experience, children who attend Head Start and Early Head Start are exposed to both the Head Start Early Learning Framework and the Kentucky Early Childhood Standards. Head Start encourages the role of parents as their child’s first and most important teachers. The program builds relationships with families that support positive parent-child relationships, family well-being, and connections to peers and community.

“I’m the kind of parent that wants to be involved in my daughter’s life,” said Autumn. “I’m interested in what she’s doing at school and what she’s learning.” Daylee attended Early Head Start for two years. “I loved the program,” said Autumn. “It’s incredible how much she’s learned.”

As a single mom, the program helped her as well. Autumn was able to meet other families and learn about their experiences. And most importantly – she didn’t feel alone. She also found the courage to serve on the local Parent Committee and Area Policy Council, the body that provides oversight and shared governance for the program. She was elected as a Parent Representative in 2014 & 2015, and was recently elected as a Community Representative to serve through October 2017.  She has twice attended the Kentucky Head Start Association Annual Conference in Louisville and the Head Start Regional Leadership Conference in Atlanta. Autumn’s Head Start experiences have encouraged her to look deeper into her potential. She has learned that to be a leader you must be knowledgeable and confident in yourself and your abilities.

Through her involvement with Head Start, she’s overcome her innate fear of public speaking. She now dreams of teaching and working in a classroom. She wishes more people knew about Head Start and would recommend the program to anyone.

“I wouldn’t be where I am today if I had not been a part of the Foothills Head Start program,” said Autumn. “The program staff gave me a sense of security and self-confidence in obtaining my goals not only as a parent, but an individual.”

Daylee loves school – especially recess and crafts. She enjoys reading and playing games on her LeapFrog Tablet. Autumn and Daylee are shining examples of what Head Start is designed to accomplish!

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