Head Start Awareness Month

Head Start Awareness Month
Posted on 10/01/2021
This is the image for the news article titled Head Start Awareness MonthEvery October, we celebrate Head Start’s historical roots, current impact, and lasting legacy by bringing awareness to Head Start and Early Head Start’s work in our Community.

This year, we want to hear from current and former Head Start, Early Head Start, and Home Base participants, including students, families, and staff. Tell us your favorite memory! Tell us how Head Start helped you or your family! Show us a photo or art project! Share with your Family Advocate or on social media (tag #SRHeadStart) and you'll be entered into a raffle where you could win one of several fabulous prizes!



Our collective efforts can remind the world what Head Start does.

Watch this video to see what the Family Advocates have planned for Head Start Awareness Month!



More about the ECEC

Head Start and Early Head Start are federally-funded programs designed to promote school readiness and life-long learning. Head Start has served preschool children of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community since 1965.

In the early 2000’s, Head Start merged with the child care center and has been known ever since as the Early Childhood Education Center. In 2010, the ECEC expanded school services to the youngest children. Now, Early Head Start serves pregnant women and families with children under age 3 on site; we also offer home-based services, where families meet with a parent educator who provides weekly education and in-home support.

These programs encourage parent involvement through regular visits to the child’s home, opportunities for parents to get involved, and special activities. Head Start and Early Head Start also link children and families to other services in the Community. Parents are encouraged to have leadership roles, give input, and participate in decision-making by serving on the Policy Council.

Our programs support total family wellbeing, and we consider parents the first and most important teachers of their children. A unique feature of the Head Start program is that each family has a Family Advocate who work with parents to set goals (personal or family-focused), encourage parent involvement in school activities, and support families in times of need or celebration.

At the Early Childhood Education Center, we are excited to have you be a part of our school family and look forward to making memories with you.


ECEC Testimonial: Christine Deerinwater

I am the grandmother and legal guardian of four children who attended the Early Childhood Education Center. I was very fortunate and grateful for each of them being accepted into the program. I needed to support the kids and myself. I was able to keep on working full-time, because of the Head Start and child care services that are provided at the ECEC.

The kids started when they were toddlers. I will never forget taking all three kids into their classrooms, one in my arms, one walking beside me, and one in the stroller. That was stressful at times.

I remember the first day I took my oldest granddaughter, Hailey, to her classroom. The teacher was Ms. Benrita Ortiz; she made us feel welcomed. Hailey took to her well and I was content she was in good hands while I was at work. I still have a picture of Benrita holding Hailey, who is now 10 years old.

During the school year, I was asked if I was interested in signing up for a training called the WISH Program. It covered child development from birth to 5 years old. The trainers were Pamela Prasher and Martha Villalobos. I enjoyed the weekly classes. I learned how the infant’s brain cells developed, behavior in children, and what we wanted our child (or what our WISH for them was) as they grew older. The participants would receive incentives for attending the classes, such as books, toys, and diapers. They also fed us meals that were always good.

As the other three children were born and put into my care, I was more familiar with the Head Start program. I got to know the teachers, the front office staff, and the family advocates; they were always kind and helpful.
I liked how the classrooms were named after the animals of the desert: cottontail, eagle, roadrunner, butterfly, etc. That was unique from other preschools.

Special Memories
Some of my favorite memories are of receiving my children’s small handprints on Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day; the teachers always made the holidays special for the kids and parents. Events, such as the Mini Powwow, Goodie Gathering (Halloween), and Christmas celebrations were always filled with good memories. But my most favorite memories are of my kids being on stage during their Head Start graduation. I was always emotional watching them receive their certificate of completion and wondering what was next for them, like moving on to kindergarten. They were becoming little people, and they were no longer infants or toddlers.

Their Culture
My kids still remember their numbers, colors and the names of the animals in our O’odham language. Thank you Patricia King and Ryan Williams for teaching my kids their language and culture; as they get older, they will remember you both for everything you taught them.

Policy Council
The past two years I have served on the ECEC Policy Council, first as vice president and my second year as president. Before participating with Policy Council, I had no idea of what all was involved behind the scenes of Head Start. We discuss policies and procedures, by-laws, we make decisions, and vote on certain topics. I am happy to say I was on the Policy Council when we approved the design for the front office layout and chose the artwork around the receptionist area and the new playgrounds. That was very special to me being involved in the planning and seeing it completed and admired.

Currently, all our meetings are held on Microsoft Teams and I encourage all ECEC parents and guardians to get involved with Policy Council. Learn about what's going on in your child school. You have the right to speak up if you don’t agree with things and help make important decisions. This being my last year at ECEC, I hope to see more fathers and father-figures get involved.

In closing I want to say thank you to all the teachers - there were so many of you, I cannot name you all! Thank you so much for all you have done for my children. They will never forget you!

Thank you also to the entire ECEC for all you have done for my family and the other families, for providing the support, educational materials, the masks, household supplies and the delivery of meals for our children due to the school was closed due to the pandemic.

We are a very blessed Community. May God bless you all!

Chris Deerinwater & the Williams Children
Christine Deerinwater with Adaine, Joshua, Aubree, Hailey.
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