By Polly Keary, Editor
Nicole Erickson gives a lot back to the program that gives her two kids a strong educational foundation. As well as volunteering in classrooms, she has traveled as far as Washington, D.C. to lobby legislators to protect funding for Head Start and ECEAP.
For her dedication to education, she has been given the statewide 2012 Parent of the Year award by the Washington State Association of Head Start and ECEAP.
Erickson’s daughter went to the Head Start program in Monroe. Dana Connolly, the director of the program, went through the extensive process of nominating Erickson for the award, writing a lengthy letter on why Erickson should win, among other things.
“She was one of our selected advocates that advocated in Washington, D.C. advocating on behalf of the Head Start program,” said Joel Ryan, executive director of the Washington State Association of Head Start and ECEAP. “She was volunteering in our classroom. She was an incredible advocate. She testified in Olympia, too, and had a face-to-face with Maria Cantwell.”
Almost 20,000 kids participate in Head Start in Washington, which provides kids, usually from low-income families, education, health, nutrition and parent involvement services.
The primary purpose of Head Start is to provide a good educational foundation for low-income children. If congress can’t reach a budget deal by the first of the year, Head Start could lose about 8 percent of its funding, which could result in a loss of services for about 45 children in the Monroe area and 1,400 statewide.
Erickson has worked hard to convince legislators to protect the program, which was begun in 1965. She and people like her are crucial to Head Start, said Ryan.
“Nicole is a very impressive person,” he said. “These are people who are trying to make a better life for their kids and themselves.”