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What Tax Season Means in Head Start

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Lead from the Start: What Tax Season Means in Head Start

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

What Tax Season Means in Head Start

Head Start has always been a comprehensive preschool program that provided Head Start children health, nutrition, mental health, dental, education, and family services. As Head Start has been transformed by each new authorization of the Head Start Act, its focus has changed, but most of those service areas have always been there, chipping away at the challenges that families must over come to pull themselves out of poverty. One of the times of year when you can really see the family involvement service area make a difference is around tax time. One goal of the family service area of Head Start is to help parents set goals and make good decisions related to changing the life of their family. Sometimes a family goal can be as simple as purchasing a car with a tax return windfall.

For my own family, as a teacher with a decent salary and two children, tax returns have meant paying a large unexpected bill, saving some dream money, or getting to take a vacation. For my Head Start families, tax season was something else entirely. It was hope. It was the opportunity to step away from the hard scrabble life of subsidized housing and daily struggle for existence. Head Start and other poverty oriented early childhood interventions have taken a comprehensive approach to developing children and families.

It is funny, and might make you scratch your head if you have always lived comfortably, but the quickest way out of the ghetto is a set of wheels. For some people owning a car is the ticket out of poverty because it can lead to so many other opportunities. A car means a chance to attend community college, find an apartment in a better part of town, or to get a better job that you could never get to on the bus line. A car means a parent can expose their children to more of the world than their block and the road from the corner to the school. That tax return means less stress about making ends meet which leads to better relationships with your kid and enough food that children don't worry about their next meal. Money has the power to change lives and when you work with needy kids in preschool you can see that change transform lives.

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