Success Stories

Completing the Circle: Head Start students return as volunteers

Head Start programs impact both the child and parent—as Julian Wilson and his mom, Tammy, demonstrate from their experience in Alaska that is now rippling out to a Region 9 Head Start Association program in Maricopa County, Arizona.

The story goes this way:  Tammy, was a young mother who joined the military at the age of 18 and had her first child at 19.

“As a young mom, I was clueless,” she said. “I didn’t have a good home life, so really didn’t know much about raising children. I reached out to other moms who told me about services for low-income families and that networking led me to Head Start.”

She enrolled Julian and his older sister in Head Start preschool and the entire family benefited. Tammy attributes much of what she learned about parenting to the Head Start program that modeled positive ways for her to interact and help educate her young children.

“I didn’t realize the importance of early childhood education and Head Start helped me learn how to care for my children,” Tammy said. “I was lonely, and Head Start helped me connect to other parents who could be role models for me.”

For Julian, Head Start gave him the right start in his education. He was a successful student in high school, where he served as captain of the tennis team and a member of the varsity swim team. He received a full academic scholarship to Arizona State University and is currently a full-time student who also works at the Veterans Affairs office on campus helping veterans like his mom achieve academic success.

Of his Head Start experience, Julian said, “It was fun, I learned a lot, and I know it really helped my mom.”

And now the full circle part: For Julian’s Senior Project, he is organizing a book drive for Head Start children in Chandler, Arizona—an easy decision to “give back” he said, “because I know, from our family’s experience, how valuable early education and the Head Start advantage is.”

Meanwhile, in Elko, Nevada, a similar story can be told about Head Start alumni Randy Mauldin, now chiropractic doctor, and another example of the Head Start advantage.

Randy entered the Elko Head Start program in 1979 as a three-year-old—enrolled by his mom, Sue Mackert, who outlines their family’s involvement: Sue said she was able to volunteer in the Head Start classroom quite regularly and was impressed with the skill building she saw at Head Start. Sue knew Randy was smart and appreciated the fact that teaching staff assessed his developments and shared his strengths. She said Randy loved attending Head Start, and it was a wonderful experience for them both.

“Randy truly got a Head Start,” Sue said. “The program helped him learn to think for himself, think things through and process information.”

Now fast-forward to 36 years to 2015 when Randy is back in Elko and one day was attending the city’s annual “Festival of Trees” celebration, which includes local groups’ displays. He stopped at the Head Start table and introduced himself as a former Head Start student. Right on the spot, he was asked if he’d be interested in serving on the board of directors for the Northeastern Nevada Head Start program. And he said yes!

Randy Mauldin is now an integral part of Head Start of Northeastern Nevada today, serving as its chairperson.

“It’s a joy to know that my support will make a difference to this generation of Head Start students and their families,” he said.





From head-to-toe, Head Start has profound first impact on students’ health and well-being

Everyone knows that the Head Start advantage for children is primarily educational. But there is a profoundly important outcome of enrollment in Head Start for children: An early focus of their physical health. In Glendale’s Head Start program, there are three cases that show Head Start’s striking impact.

Take the story of a boy named Aiden, who has had blurry vision since birth—and no one knew. When he was enrolled in Head Start, the program conducted the usual hearing and vision screenings. After the initial screening by Pacific Clinics Head Start staff, the child was referred back to his primary care physician for further testing.  Aiden’s doctor then referred him to an eye specialist, who discovered the boy had infantile cataracts—that may have resulted blindness if gone undetected. Glasses were ordered along with six-month return visits to the ophthalmologist for monitoring and care. Aiden may require surgery later on, but for now he is happy wearing his glasses and being able to see more clearly.

Then there is this: A toddler in a Head Start Child Care Program was born with a malformation on both his feet—and was coming to day care only clad is socks because no shoes fit him—and the child’s doctor told his parents this was not a concern. Due to safety concerns of a child not wearing shoes in day care, the Head Start staff were able to meet with a specialist who made the child special shoes. Meanwhile the Head Start staff provided ongoing support the boy’s parents in finding the care their child needed and in advocating for his health.

“Eventually, the parents were able to buy regular shoes that were a size bigger, said Head Start staff Dayana, “but I think sometimes all it takes is knowing someone is there. Now they know they can come to us with concerns or questions.”

In one spectacular case, a Head Start staffer was there right at the beginning for a child—literally! A Head Start home educator began visiting a recently arrived family from New Jersey: a mom with a baby due in 6 weeks, plus a dad and two young children. The home educator helped the mom get medical care, an important first visit to a physician and then an appointment in 10 days with an OB/GYN doctor.

Three days before that OB/GYN visit, the home educator stopped by to drop off more baby supplies. She found the mom having contractions every 5 minutes. “I need your help, please!” she said, as she couldn’t reach her husband, and the two young children were there.

The Head Start staffer found a couple next door to help out; the wife watched the children and the husband drove her and the expectant mom to the hospital—with the staffer having mom practice breathing techniques on the ride. They arrived at the hospital at 4:45 p.m.—and a healthy baby girl arrived at 5:23 p.m. So, with minutes to spare, Head Start was there!

The Vision

All children, regardless of their circumstance at birth, deserve a full and prosperous life.


The Mission

  • Support high-impact Head Start programs for children and adults by creating opportunities for collaboration, networking and information sharing.
  • Unite with state and national Head Start organizations to ensure regulatory and budget outcomes that support our work.
  • Champion the message that every child and family who succeeds makes their community a better place.

Contact Us

1225 8th Street, Suite 342
Sacramento, CA 95814

916-259-0971
headstartr9@region9hsa.org

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