An Unlikely Start for Parent Leader

Head Start parent Brian Crutchfield needed to make a complaint. The 15-minute window for parents to drop off their children at their local Prep Academy was too short for some parents to navigate safely, and someone needed to know. Not knowing what else to do, Brian took to Facebook to make his complaint. Soon, the Council’s Head Start Director, Jessica Coffie, was alerted to the issue and reached out to Brian to learn more.

After talking with Brian for a few minutes, Jessica learned that he hadn’t received a copy of the Head Start Parent Handbook because he co-parents from a separate residence, and only one parent received a copy of the handbook. “He identified an area of improvement for us,” Jessica said. “He didn’t know how to file a complaint because he didn’t receive the handbook with the information, so we needed to make some changes.” Brian had some great ideas about better engaging fathers in the program, so Jessica invited him to meet up so that she could learn more about his perspective and his ideas.

A barber by trade, Brian suggested an engagement opportunity for kids and dads to have their hair cut together. Brian, Jessica, and the Head Start team worked together to create a family event where fathers and children could receive free haircuts, and dads could help their children learn more about patience, communication, positive self-talk, and trying not to wiggle too much in the barber’s chair. The “Cutz with Dad” event was a success!

But Brian didn’t stop there; he wanted to become more involved. He volunteered to read books in the classroom and joined in on the monthly “Father Focus” group that supports Head Start fathers in their role as parents and lifelong teachers to their children. He joined the agency’s Head Start Policy Council, taking on a leadership and program oversight role. He attended the Parent and Family Engagement Conference and came back with even more great ideas on helping fathers become more involved in early childhood education. He’s appeared on the Council’s “Look Who’s Talking” podcast about Head Start and all things family to discuss the importance of father involvement in a child’s life. Brian was even voted to represent the Kentucky Head Start Association as a parent representative on the Region IV Board of Directors.

Though his child will be aging out of Head Start soon, Brian and the Head Start staff are working hard on a new father engagement program called “March Dadness,” which we know will be a big hit. Fortunately for the Council and future Head Start dads, we won’t be losing Brian. He’ll be joining Community Action Council’s Board of Directors, and we couldn’t be more excited to have such a passionate person working alongside us.

As a parent, advocate, organizer, and leader, Brian has helped our children, fathers, and whole families to expand their knowledge and skills as they become more engaged in the process, and he also made sure that the drop-off window time has been expanded.

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