On Thursday, February 8th, 2024, Klamath Family Head Start staff and parents attended the Oregon Head Start Association State Meeting in Salem.  Our representatives were able to meet with Senator Linthicum, Rep. McIntire and Rep. Reschke.  During their visit they were able to advocate for Head Start and explain struggles and strengths within our program.  Below is a letter from our parent representative on her experience during this visit.

As a parent I had no idea what role I would have in head start. Starting from the beginning I joined policy Council; I was voted to be State Representative I really did not know much about it other than you went away to meet other head starts. It was absolutely incredible, seeing alot of the head starts coming together and doing workshops about various topics and aspects of head start. I was very fortunate to meet with our head start people and get to know them and experience this opportunity together as I felt a bit nervous at first. They are some great people working at our head start including administrators and teachers, which never really got meet any other people who worked there besides my daughters’ teachers.

My second day in Salem was one of the most amazing days I spent there as well because we went to the State Capital where we met with legislators and representatives to talk about our needs and the funding, we need for our head starts programs. It was a clear understanding that we were inquiring about funding for mental health therapist, ECI/disability funding, and new building because we desperately are in need all of that. As we met with these legislators and representatives, I was able to tell my story about how head start has helped my family and myself. I was able to share about my daughters delays and disabilities and how funding would help them. It was nice to know that my story was important to tell and that they wanted to hear from me, I did not know how much my story would mean to someone like that but I’m glad I was able to share my story and amazed that my story is in their minds.

 I was not able to make it to all the workshops but one workshop I did catch one later in the day called; Defining and Advocating for Inclusion in head start where I met some different parents, teachers, and administrators. I also learned about the importance of inclusion in head start and the meaning of belonging for children in school. It brought awareness to me not only about inclusion but how it actually affects a child in the classroom and knowing that race, gender, disability, etc is being valued. This whole experience taught me how important it is for me to advocate for children and my daughters’ because they do need to have the tools to help them grow and achieve their goals.