Last fall, I had a family in my class. The child was a three year old girl on an IEP. She was quiet and often did not want to come to school. Mom continued to bring her every day, despite her screaming and crying. After a few weeks, the child came to school without a problem and started to talk quietly to me. Every day at lunch, she would sit by me. One lunch, she really opened up and told me something she had heard her mom say at home. At the parent teacher conference, I shared this with her mom. She said, “I did not realize that she was listening or even understood what I was talking about.”

14 months later, I ran into mom, she said, “that the conversation I had with her that day was the catalyst to where she is today.” She shared that she was in a domestic violence relationship and at that time did not know that is was affecting her child. She did not realize that her child was carrying that with her to school every day. She appreciated that I was able to build a strong relationship with her child where she felt comfortable enough to open up and share what was bothering her.

With the support of Head Start staff, mom found the strength to walk away from the relationship. She realized her self-worth and went back to school, where she hopes to find a career in helping domestic violence victims. She is aware that family engagement in her child’s school is important and is a policy council representative for Head Start. She says, “that when her daughter found her voice, she realized she had a voice too.” She used that voice this year at Advocacy Day to share her story, in hopes of getting more children and families early learning services. She wants every family to have the opportunity to break the cycle.

From Hope, To Change

-Kent Youth and Family Services.

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