State Rep. Mary Whiteford Visits Allegan Head Start Classroom

ALLEGAN COUNTY, Mich. (May 8, 2017) -- State Rep. Mary Whiteford on Monday visited a Head Start classroom at the Community Action of Allegan County, located at the local ACATEC (Allegan County Area Technical & Education Center). During her visit, Rep. Whiteford read “Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed” to the children, toured the facility, and met with staff to discuss early childhood education.

“Head Start offers a unique two-generation educational approach which not only focuses on children in the classroom, but unites goal setting and parent involvement with wrap-around services to create true partnerships with our families. The ACATEC classroom offers a full-day program, throughout the school year. We deeply appreciate Rep. Whiteford’s visit and support for early childhood education," said Sarah See, Early Education Services Director.

A 2016 study entitled the “The Lifecycle Benefits of an Influential Early Childhood Program,” by Nobel Laureate economist James Heckman, focused on the long-term benefits of an influential early childhood program targeting disadvantaged families. The program was evaluated by random assignment and followed Head Start participants through their mid-30s.

Heckman’s research found that comprehensive, birth-to-five early childhood programs like Head Start can deliver better outcomes for children in a variety of areas -- education, health, social behaviors -- and could positively impact future labor incomes, reduce crime, increase mothers' labor incomes, with greater monetized benefits for males. This research also shows a significant rise in the return on investment -- $13 per child, per year -- in early childhood education. Additionally, children who have a high-quality preschool experience show significant, positive developmental differences compared with children who do not, according to research on preschool programs in Michigan.

Head Start encourages the role of parents as their child’s first and most important teacher. The Head Start program builds relationships with families that support positive parent-child relationships, family well-being, and connections to peers and the community. Children and parents participating in the Head Start program receive the following services free of charge: comprehensive education, healthy meals and snacks, child development screenings, assistance with medical/dental services, special needs assistance, family support services and parent involvement/education opportunities.

Locally, Community Action of Allegan County serves over 325 children ages 0-5 within the Head Start and Early Head Start programs each year. Parents interested in enrolling their child in CAAC’s Early Head Start of Head Start program(s) may visit or call (269) 673-5472 ext. 237.