Catholic Charities – a Head Start Mum and a Head Start Baby

After my first meeting at the Catholic Charities I requested a second visit to meet the Head Start team. I met two lovely ladies, Ms Nathalia Sabatino Family and Community Specialist and Leslie Ruiz Education Specialist for Early Childhood Services. They were both very welcoming and spent a lot of time talking to me and giving me some interesting resources. Nathalia has worked in Head Start for over 20 years, originally a Head Start Mum herself she brought three of her children up through school and college. Leslie was a Head Start baby 29 years ago, now a training the head start teachers, she oozes enthusiasm for the service as she talks through the Montessori practice their Head Start have adopted and the tools used to measure social and emotional development through engagement with the families.
This was a significant visit. We talked about the new ‘Early Learn’ a universal Pre K program Mayor Bloomberg is backing in order to make it more accessible for a most families to access good quality childcare provision in the city. We spoke how because of the nature of the system the city are putting established Head Start Centres on the open market and getting them to bid again to keep their own services. The city are also utilising staff and resources which are taking away from current Head Start centres, including the Catholic Charities, they have lost a some staff because of this. The charity also suffers from loss of services due to relying on links with other agencies who get their funding withdrawn due to cuts.
We spoke about the cultural changes seen in the areas of Queens and around Brooklyn. Queens is probably the most diverse borough in New York holding 116 different languages. They also reminded me of all undocumented migrants who cannot access medicaid (a health insurance plan on public assistance) only children of undocumented status can access this and documented families. Most of their time is taken up with helping people with getting the right health support. They marvelled at the NHS saying – you don’t have to worry about that, think about how much more you can do!. I said yes but it’s something we don’t even realise we have, it’s a given – like drinking water from a tap.
Anyway, I’ve finally caught up with myself – for anyone that’s interested. I’ve just got to whizz into town to get some last minute things and then it’s off to airport. Final thoughts and a closing blog post to follow at JFK later.


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