When many people think of Head Start, images of young children and brightly colored classrooms come to mind. For many families who participate in Maricopa County’s Head Start program, the brightly colored classrooms are just one aspect of the program. Children from birth to age 5 receive a no-cost, high-quality early education experience that sets them up for success as they enter kindergarten. The program is also designed to set families up for success.
One example of this holistic approach can be seen in the story of a family with 8 children. They relied on an old van to shuttle their kids to school, get to work, go to the grocery store, and all the typical travels that a family makes each week. The van was continually breaking down. Not only was it costing the family money to repair, the unreliable transportation often meant being late or even missing school.
At one point, when the van needed repairs, the family was able to temporarily borrow a smaller vehicle, but that was difficult and frustrating, too, since they needed to make multiple trips to get the family to a single destination.
Two of the family’s children were enrolled in Maricopa County’s Head Start program. This is how Leticia Del Cid, a family support specialist in Maricopa County’s Human Services Department, learned about their transportation issues. She knew that helping the family with a solution was necessary to ensure that the children were all able to access their schools, medical appointments, and other places to ensure their well-being.
Realizing their finances wouldn’t allow the family to purchase a different, more reliable vehicle, Leticia explored ways to help them free up the funds they needed. One of the ideas that Letician thought of what to link the family to financial literacy information. This, in turn, led the parents to research home refinancing.
Fortunately, they were able to refinance their home, which drastically lowered their mortgage payment and allowed the family to purchase a brand-new family van. The days of having their transportation break down and of making multiple trips were behind them.
While many may think of Head Start as a classroom, in Maricopa County, Head Start is so much more. It truly is a program that provides families with the support and resources they need to ensure a family can thrive. Sometimes that means helping a large family just keep the wheels in motion!
If you know a family with children under the age of 5 years who could benefit from the wraparound services provided through the Maricopa County Head Start program, we invite you to share this link: Maricopa.gov/HeadStart. For more information on other support available through the Maricopa County Human Services Department, visit Maricopa.gov/HelpWithBills.