Community and common sense

I believe children are our BEST investment

 
Karissa and her American Girl Doll.  She adopted her doll on her adoption day - October 16, 2002.

Karissa and her American Girl Doll.  She adopted her doll on her adoption day - October 16, 2002.

As I stated earlier, we adopted our daughter, Karissa when she was five.  She was one of nine biological children to the same mother and father.  When we received her into our foster home, she was emaciated, filthy, and required every baby tooth to be filled, crowned or pulled.  She was not potty trained, was fearful and reactive, and did not know how to eat any food that was not processed or from a can...and she started kindergarten right alongside every other kindergarten student.

We took her in.  We loved her with all we had. We brought all of our combined teacher tools to bare.  And still, it took this beautiful, perfect, artistic child until her freshman year to be fully caught-up to grade level in reading...and she knew it.

"I think that if I had been able to go to preschool like Dave and Joe, I'd be in honors classes too," she'd say.  My heart would break.  She was absolutely correct.  She started behind, and she stayed behind.  Not because she had a disability, but simply because once you are behind...it is nearly impossible to catch up.

Karissa did do very well in high school, and was accepted to a prestigious college.  But, a successful college academic experience required our daughter to put aside all of her fears of loss, abandonment, and issues of academic confidence.

She decided to wait and grow in her personal efficacy.  She is a manager of a large, local restaurant, is learning to stand on her own and we are so proud of her for it. She is happy and life is good...but it will ALWAYS be a struggle.

But what if her mother would have had access to free childcare and preschool from the beginning.  Sure, she could have gone to Head Start if mom were the kind of mom to register her and had transportation to get her there.  But Karissa's family was a whole other level of poor.  To the health and human services system, they were nearly invisible. 

These are the families that need to be entered into the system of education from day 1 in the hospital.  In-home parent training that is ongoing for the first year. Then a follow-up at ages 2, 4 and 6 to make sure education is occurring and to keep a watchful eye for other at-risk behaviors, like the violence that sent Karissa's father to prison.  These investments would pay off exponentially. Not only in social stability, but also in tax dollars, when these children become a positive member of society.

Don't take my word for it...read the research.

I think that if I had been able to go to preschool like Dave and Joe, I’d be in honors classes too.
— Karissa Kennedy, adopted at age 5