Anat Weisenfreund: Head Start recognized for its vital leadership

Published: 10/19/2021 1:32:53 PM

October is Head Start Awareness Month. In celebration, I want to shine a spotlight on the Community Action Pioneer Valley (CAPV)’s Head Start, which was nationally recognized by the National Head Start Association’s BOLD Game Changer Prize for our leadership through the challenges of 2020, which continue today.

Since 2009, I have been the director of CAPV’s Head Start and early learning programs, where we serve pregnant women and the youngest children and families in center-based, home-based, and family child care options in a 1,700-square-mile, mostly rural service area. CAPV has adopted a strengths-based and trauma-informed approach in which families are valued as essential partners and staff also are valued, cared for, and recognized as each other’s most valuable resource.

As the pandemic hit, I and my extraordinary team worked to put our approach to the test — would staff and families truly feel supported and empowered as they were engulfed in such collective trauma? The answer is yes. Consistent, empathic, and reflective listening and messaging to staff resulted in a workforce that felt deeply supported and appreciated, and were then able to offer the same connection, recognition, and support to children and families.

In October and all year round, we are using all possible resources and strategies to ensure the healthy development of the youngest, most vulnerable children and families. That is truly something to celebrate.

Anat Weisenfreund


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