Stacey has 3 kids, ages 22, 18 and 5. When her littlest was a toddler, Stacey knew her son needed more. “There came a point when I couldn’t give him everything he needed,” remembers Stacey. She knew her son could benefit from more social interaction and structure.
Searching for options, Stacey called around and looked at other preschools but Community Action allowed her to send her son for free, which is what worked for her budget at the time. To Stacey, the cost isn’t the only benefit, for her, it was the quality of the program and the staff. “The assessment and intakes was a smooth process and everyone was very nice. The home visitors they were really kind too if there was anything specific that we needed, they were right on it. The teachers even visited our home. It was services that wouldn’t happen with the other programs I looked into.”
Stacey started volunteering in the classroom and loved it. She fell in love with the kids. She knew she wanted to get more involved, and when she was asked to join the Early Education Policy Council, while she wasn’t sure what it was, she did know she was in. She later went on to become the president of the policy council and sits on the Community Action of Allegan County Board. “It was all out of my comfort zone but I learned there was more depth than the shallow stuff – there were decisions to be made. I had a say in it and everyone cares for the family and kids. It is something I want to be apart of it,” Stacey recalls.
“I wish I would’ve put my other two children in Head Start.”
Stacey feels Head Start advances the children more. Not only do they get the structure but they get self-discipline that prepares them for their future. Also for the social interaction was beneficial.
“Head Start has rules that they follow. You feel safe knowing your kids are going somewhere they are being taken care of and are prepared to enter public school. They get to eat until they are full which isn’t always an option in public school. Some kids need the academic part, some need the socialization part and this helps all of it. It also helps the parents and gives them time to take care of themselves and other things they need to do for the home.”
When asked what if there wasn’t Head Start? Stacey paused and then said she doesn’t know what she would’ve done.
And as for her son’s opinon on Head Start. “He loved Head Start. He felt like he was a big boy,” mentioned Stacey. The transition to kindergarten was much smoother with her youngest compared to her older children. It paved the way and prepared him for the full days in the classroom.