Sept. 15 marked the beginning of National Hispanic Heritage month, a tribute first instituted by President Lyndon Johnson in 1968 to honor the important role Hispanic Americans play in shaping our national character. Given his prescient proclamation — the Hispanic population represents our nation’s largest ethnic group — it is not surprising that when President Johnson created Head Start 50 years ago, a cornerstone of the program was ensuring services were culturally responsive to the communities they served.
Today, Hispanic children represent the largest percentage of minority children aged birth to 5 years.
Unfortunately, many of these children face significant barriers because Hispanic families are disproportionately affected by poverty. In Miami, about 60 percent of our Head Start children are Hispanic. As program director at KIDCO Child Care, I see firsthand how access to Head Start is life-changing for vulnerable Hispanic children and families.
Located at the center of the Design District, our dedicated team of professionals at KIDCO works to build partnerships throughout our unique community to provide comprehensive services, ranging from dental care to family art workshops. The Head Start approach, coupled with direct federal funding, empowers our team to innovate, make improvements and nimbly meet the evolving needs of our families.
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As we recognize National Hispanic Heritage month, I urge those in Washington who are bandying about a flurry of proposals to reform and improve the way Head Start operates to remember Head Start serves vulnerable children in all types of communities all across this nation.
Ivette Riano, program director, KIDCO Head Start, Design District, Miami