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On Wednesday, September 17, this day marked Head Start’s 50th Anniversary! In honor of this momentous occasion, nhsa asked for Head Start agencies to share pictures of their staff, families and students wearing red, white and blue. The purpose was not only to celebrate, but also to showcase Head Start and Early Head Start programs across the nation and the different communities they provide services in,

Our agency, thought this was an absolutely fantastic idea and a great way to join in on the fun! However, we thought one day wasn’t quite enough, so we made this celebration into a three day event!

Beginning on Wednesday, and through the rest of the week, our El Valor staff, from our cooks, educators, family advocates, parent infant educators, social workers, ACA navigators, administration, and everyone in between wore their red, white and blue El Valor t-shirts. Even our students and families got involved as well!

Everyone wanted to show how proud they were to be include in the Head Start family!

We are honored to be include in a community of educators, supporters and families who understand quality education is a right, not a privilege in which all children must have access to and in order for a community to thrive, all families must be nurtured and given access to essential resources they need to prosper and grow!

So cheers to 50 years and here is to 50 years more!

Last Thursday was El Valor’s Monarch Butterfly Release Celebration. The event highlighted our environmental educational curriculum and parental engagement programs 
in partnership with U.S. Forest Service International Program. 

El Valor and the U.S. Forest Service International Program have partnered since 2009 utilizing monarch butterflies as key learning tools for El Valor’s birth-to-5 Early Head Start and Head Start programs to promote community engagement and parental involvement in Mexican-American communities across Chicago. Program outcomes have directly demonstrated an increase in school preparation, encouraged vocabulary acquisition, and stimulated an increase for environmental science.

These distinctive monarch butterflies are a significant cultural symbol for immigrants. El Valor has provided an engaging learning environment for its families through the utilization of these butterflies, including an opportunity to raise them at home, along with combining active exploration activities among educators and students in both the classroom and schoolyard.

Recent 2014 reports indicate that fewer monarch butterflies are migrating back to Mexico because of the decline of milkweed, the only plant for which monarch butterflies will lay their eggs, while serving as a primary food source for monarch caterpillars, in the United States.

In 2004, an estimated 550 million completed the winter migration, while in 2013 only 33 million arrived. Over the past several years, there was a dramatic 43.7 percent decrease of butterflies to Mexico. These reports show a grave concern for conservationists as monarchs have long been considered both an indicator of ecological health and a representative of pollinator populations. 

Despite these tragic reports, El Valor’s families and students have maintained a positive learning environment, while successfully completing this active exploration program. More than 100 monarch butterflies were released to begin their annual southern migration to their sanctuaries of central Mexico.

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Head Start lives up to its name - Washington Times

Yasmina Vinci, nhsa Executive Director, responds to The Washington Times September 5th Editorial, “Head Start: An $8 billion, ineffective political sacred cow.”

Excerpt: “The writers’ shallow opinion is apparently rooted in an archaic assumption that Head Start is simply “expensive day care.” Certainly, readers would have appreciated a more transparent and honest narrative of Head Start’s approach to early learning: rigorous comprehensive services that include home visits, health screenings and improved nutrition. This approach provides a foundation for vulnerable children, stabilizing the family and home, and ensuring that the entire family is prepared and invested in their own lifelong success.”

On Tuesday, our Reyes Center hosted and Early Head Start Meet and Greet for families transitioning to Head Start in the upcoming school year.

The Meet and Greet consisted of fun learning activities, such as cooking up delicious, nutritious meals for your growing toddler!

Families got to know one another during the activities and mini workshops and were treated to a special performance from Kids on the Block Puppets!

After the performance families were introduced to the Head Start Curriculum, including developmental milestones, parental engagement and setting family goals.

Families toured the Head Start classrooms, met with teachers and discussed transition techniques to help aid their children in the next phase of their education journey!

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