Advocating for Head Start Families

ERSEA meeting

No one knows your child better than you! And as the parent of a child in Head Start, you are the expert in what your child needs and how they best learn. Using your voice to speak up for your child and other children is the essence of advocacy. Simply, advocacy is the active support of an idea or cause. We all advocate when we seek to make a difference in the lives of children. And there’s been no more important time to advocate for children in Michigan than today. Here are some things you can do to become an active advocate for your child and family.

Become Engaged/Informed: Get involved in your school’s parent group. We all gain insights and inspiration when we work with others for a common goal. There are many opportunities to do this by volunteering in your child’s program where you can learn a lot about early childhood issues. The more you learn the better informed and empowered you become!

Tell Your Story: Data and facts are important but personal stories are memorable and persuasive. A personal story helps listeners, whether elected officials or community leaders, relate to the human side of an issue.

Talk to Your Neighbors, Civic and Service Groups: Tell the people around you about the importance of Head Start and what it’s meant for your family. Word-of-mouth support builds and people are most likely to believe those they know and trust. Civic and service groups are always looking for speakers knowledgeable about important community-based programs.

Contact Your Elected Leaders: Elected officials can’t possibly know everything about all issues before them. They need to hear from knowledgeable individuals who can tell them how these issues are impacting the lives of their constituents. Whether you want to thank your Member of Congress for their support of Head Start, or ask them to support Head Start in the upcoming federal budget, contact them by phone, email, on social media, or seek them out at public events. Find out when you elected leaders are hosting a community coffee hour and show up. This is the best way to start building a relationship with them. Also, do tell them you care – and vote!

Write an Op Ed/Letter to the Editor: Elected officials and their staff always scan local publications to get a sense of what’s important to the public. Use these forums to present persuasive information that can reach lots of people. And then do share these postings on your social media outlets.

Why We Advocate for Head Start:  Head start is funded primarily by public dollars that pay for our grantee members' academic, social, health, and family services. The competition for public funding never goes away. With your help, we can educate decision-makers, legislators and other influential people about the value of Head Start programming, its effectiveness and its return on investment to society. Become a Head Start champion and help shape public policy.

                                        Resource Documents/Presentations

Federal

NHSA Center on Advocacy

Invite Your Member of Congress to Your Head Start Center

Congressional Site Visit Toolkit

Head Start Facts and Impacts

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

State

2014 Head Start Fact Sheet (Michigan)

“How to be a Great Advocate for Your Kids!” (T. Banas, January 2017)

“Yes, You Can! Telling Your Story(T. Banas, January 2017)

“Michigan Head Start Association 101

2016-2017 Parent Handbook for Head Start and Great Start Readiness Programs

(Northwest Michigan Community Action Agency)