Several years ago I was in the parking lot, heading to my car at the end of the day. It was one of those hot, dry, windy summer days. One of the mothers I had gotten to know stopped me to talk. Her youngest had been in Early Head Start (serves 6-weeks to 36-months), but was about to turn 3 and she’d not been able to find care for her after our program ended. She told me of one place where she’d been on the waiting list for six months and another where she’d been on the waiting list for ten months. Neither had openings coming up soon and both said it could be a year before her name would come up on the list.
“What do I do?” she asked. “If I don’t have child care, I’m going to have to drop out of nursing school. I’m going to have to quit work if I can’t find someplace for her.” Then her eyes widened and she said, “I’m going to have to go back to him.” Her abuser. The man she’d finally been able to escape and she thought she’d left behind forever in her hard work toward a new life.
What could I do? We couldn’t offer free care because she wasn’t homeless, and her youngest was too old for our program. I decided that day that if we ever had the chance to become a Head Start Grantee (3- to 5-years-old) we would do it. My dream was to serve our children all the way from six weeks to the start of elementary school with intensive, two generational services so that women like her would never have to choose between the safety and care for her children and her own future, never have to choose to go back to an abuser because she didn’t have someone to watch her children.
Today, we’re announcing to you, our closest supporters, that we’ve achieved that dream. We applied and were awarded a brand new contract for more than $22 million over five years to provide Head Start services and expand our Early Head Start in Tarrant County. This day is a dream come true for me AND is wonderful news for children and their mothers in our community, as we work alongside them on their journey from poverty to prosperity.
Center for Transforming Lives believes in the potential for every mother and every child and a better future for all. This is one more important step toward that better future for all!
Stay tuned for more details and this exciting project unfolds.