Achievements and Future Goals of Head Start

As part of our Grow up Great series, Ora Welch, CEO & President of the HOPES Community Action Partnership, explains the importance of Head Start and the history of the organization. Welch explains what they have achieved and where the program needs to go.

7/8/17 #3013






"We are pleased to be joined by Ora Welch, President and CEO of Hopes. What is Hopes? Hopes is a community program and it's a program located in the community to serve people who... Hoboken? Our headquarters is in Hoboken and Hopes started in Hoboken. It started as a result of the economic opportunities program that began back in 1964-65. The economic opportunity act. So let's get this straight. Lyndon Johnson is President in 1964 after the assassination of President Kennedy? Yes. Head Start is created as part of this initiative? Part of the Great Society program and his initial War on Poverty? Yeah. And the intention was to help assist children who really were getting the short end of the stick? Educationally, yes. So, this program, Hopes, part of that initiative, right? Yes. Describe some of these children. What are they facing? They are facing all kinds of obstacles in their lives as they start to grow up. They start school behind children who have more advantaged situations. They need to get an opportunity to experience learning language, learning words, socializing, learning to get along with other children and other people. Getting their health together... their dental health and physical health. How about just being able to get a meal in the morning? Their mental and emotional health? Yes. Sorry for interrupting. Getting a meal in the morning. A meal at noon and a snack before they go home in the day so that most of their nutritional needs are met. It's interesting. We had a whole panel discussion about the word gap, right? Yes. You see it every day, don't you? Yes. What does it look like? Well, it looks like... what happens is the children don't have as many words to express themselves, but that's what we're working on. We're working on giving them that avenue of words for expression. Reading to them. Talking with them. Having them talk to each other. Having them talk to the teachers, the adults. Having them talk to people in their families. And having them learn that problems can be resolved through words and it doesn't have to always be physical. That's one of the things that happens I think with children. They get frustrated and they get into a lot of fights, especially when they don't have the words, especially when they don't have the words. This goes over into the school and they get put into special education and then they never catch up. How did you get into this to the point that your passion, enthusiasm, and commitment is dedicated to these children? When I was growing up, I grew up in the segregated..."