More Than Helping Children Learn: A Complete Head Start

One afternoon Chaela Shook and her daughters happened to come to the Wayland Park on the same day as a CAAC Early Head Start Playgroup. She noticed the different activities the group was doing and asked about the program. Chaela immediately became interested and asked how she could become involved. After learning more, she decided to complete an application for the Early Head Start Home Based program. Once completing the approval process, her children Indigo and Wren were enrolled in the program.

Chaela Shook and her partner Bailey Hatten are committed to being the best parents possible to their children Indigo and Wren. Both Bailey and Chaela work well together as a team. The family has participated in multiple areas of the Early Education program, eager to learn as much as they can.

The whole family has participated in the weekly home visits using the Parents as Teachers and Conscious Discipline curricula. They also attend playgroups in Allegan, Wayland, and Plainwell. One of their favorite events was the CAAC Early Education “It’s A Small World” event where the girls had the chance to meet princesses and do a variety of activities. The family also attended and completed the Conscious Discipline Parent Workshop. This family uses many of the techniques they learned in the program every day.

Bailey and Chaela work hard to accomplish the goals that they set for themselves. Chaela’s first self-identified goal was to obtain a stable job making more money. Chaela accomplished this goal and is now works for Perrigo full-time, with a wonderful benefits package.

The second goal set by the family was money management. Bailey and Chaela use a budget workbook and sit down together regularly to discuss upcoming bills. In partnership, they started to track their spending habits, which helped them regain control of the family finances. The family has since paid off most of their debt. While they are still working on paying off student loans, bills are being paid on time, which has eliminated the late fees. They now use a shopping list, along with some coupons, when they grocery shop to eliminate unnecessary spending.

The Hatten-Shook family decided to save money by turning off lights and electronics that were not needed or in use, which has lowered their electric bill. This family now has a savings account started for emergencies and feel more secure with their finances. “The program doesn’t only help your kids learn. It offers so much more! You have help finding so many resources whether that is help with paying your bills or parenting classes,” said Chaela when asked about her experience.

Both Bailey and Chaela share responsibilities in teaching their children. They read to the girls and set aside time for learning every day. They have learned that you can make everyday activities fun and a learning opportunity. By following a routine, the girls’ behavior was improved because they now know what is expected and have something to look forward to.

As their Home Visitor, Lisa Stanford looks forward to their weekly visits together. “I enjoy hearing the family’s stories of events that they have experienced each week. One of the best feelings for me is going to their home and having the girls run up to the door smiling to greet me, ready to learn and play. It is an honor to partner with the Hatten-Shook family. I am thankful that they have included me in their journey of growing as parents and strengthening their family”.

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