Head Start can help in opioid battle

Posted 7/8/18

To The Editor:Recently, I had the pleasure of joining Congressman Chuck Fleischmann in Washington, D.C., to discuss the impact of the opioid epidemic on Head Start children and families in Tennessee. …

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Head Start can help in opioid battle

Posted

To The Editor:

Recently, I had the pleasure of joining Congressman Chuck Fleischmann in Washington, D.C., to discuss the impact of the opioid epidemic on Head Start children and families in Tennessee.

While in Washington, I spoke at a Congressional Baby Caucus briefing, which the congressman co-chairs, on the important role early education can play as our country and our community confronts a growing opioid epidemic. The bottom line I communicated is that Head Start’s whole child-whole family approach is perfectly suited to make an impact on the lives of children harmed by opioids and that we need more resources and more support from Congress to deepen our impact and support more children and families.

As CEO of the Family Resource Agency, I am blessed to work with dedicated staff and others in our communities to deliver the high-quality, life-changing services of Head Start and Early Head Start to over 1,800 children and families in Tennessee and Georgia. So when the President’s Commission on Combating Addiction and the Opioid Crisis reported that America needs to invest in “comprehensive family-centered approaches and should ensure families have access to drug screening, substance use treatment, and parental support,” the answer to me was clear.

This is exactly what we do in Head Start. Our approach to addressing the whole child and the whole family includes supporting the mental and physical health of every parent and child  through a web of community systems and resources. With more infants suffering from neonatal abstinence syndrome than ever before, and America’s foster care, special education and criminal justice systems being overwhelmed as a result, this complex problem deserves a holistic solution which includes Head Start.

I want to thank Congressman Fleischmann for bringing attention to the critical role that community-based solutions, like Head Start, have in addressing this crisis. If we want to directly address the youngest sufferers from the opioid epidemic, more of our leaders in Washington must see the value of Head Start in the fight — and give us resources to expand the work we’re already doing to help children, families and communities heal.

— James Anderson, CEO

Family Resource Agency Inc.

Cleveland


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