DALLAS (KDAF) — October is Head Start Awareness Month!
Head Start of Greater Dallas is a leader in early childhood education, providing children with the foundation of skills and knowledge they need to be successful in school and life and fosters self-reliant families and communities.
Yolanda Williams sat down with Wanda Meshask Smith, founder and former CEO of Head Start, and Wylaia Mondy, site manager at Buckeye Trail Commons.
To understand the history of Head Start, you have to go back to January of 1964, when President Lyndon B. Johnson created the Head Start program as an eight-week demonstration project designed to help break the cycle of poverty. Then, in 1982, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed October as Head Start Awareness Month.
Since then, Head Start of Greater Dallas has grown to serve thousands of children and their families.
“When I first came to Head Start, we had 400 children, with a $425,000 budget,” Smith said. “When I left Head Start, we had over 4,000 children with a budget of $39 million…We were successful and I had a great staff to support me. I never want to take the full credit for Head Start’s success, because I had great staff members who helped.”
Beyond early childhood education, services include nutrition, mental health, social services and more.
“We have special services where we do counseling with our families..,” Mondy said. “We do case management, our family advocates are doing home visits. We try to find those needs for those parents and then connect them to the right community support, even if it’s not within our building.”