(NOVI, Mich.) - The Michigan Head Start Association's 2018 Winter Assembly and Election provided an information-rich program on January 11-12 on topics including: addressing trauma in children and families, legislative updates from statewide experts and a visit from the soon-to-be newest member of the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) administration.
Dr. Scott Koenigsknecht, the incoming Deputy Superintendent of MDE's P-20 Systems and Student Transition, attended a comprehensive briefing prepared by Head Start directors and staff regarding Head Start's impact across the state.
New officers to the MHSA Board of Directors were elected. See the complete listing of officers and board members for this year here.
Event speakers included Renell B. Weathers, the Community Engagement Director for the Michigan League for Public Policy, who presented important findings on the "2017 Race for Results" study on child well-being in Michigan. The state has the lowest index score in the country for African-American children, and low scores as well for children of Latino descent. She offered ways to improve outcomes for children and how child advocates can take action for change.
Also addressing statewide issues but from a Legislative perspective was Michigan Children's CEO & President Matt Gillard, who gave an overview of the Legislative climate in Washington, D.C. and Lansing.
Mental health expert Christina Grim, from Starfish Family Services, provided an overview of her agency's implementation of the Trauma Smart initiative for integrating early childhood education and mental health services to address trauma in the classroom. Despite the use of various responsive curricula in recent years, disruptive classroom behaviors are growing as are the use of emergency restraints. Reports of increased teacher burnout are on the rise as Head Start agencies see more and more traumatic stress among children.
Parent workshops included a program by Michigan State University Extension Educator Kendra Moyses detailing strategies for dealing with stress and negative influences in daily life. She explored ways for children and family to build their resilience against challenges.
Another parent-focused workshop, titled "Lessen the Stress; Increase Your Success," offered parents strategies to help transition from Head Start to the K-12 school system. Moving onto kindergarten can be a scary time for children and parents. Jen LaBonte, Family Services Manager, Chippewa-Luce-Mackinac Community Action Agency, shared effective ways to stay involved and active in one's child’s education in Head Start and beyond.