Laisa “Chica” Caldwell first learned of Head Start in 2002 when she saw signs for a preschool at her neighborhood elementary school. She was initially attracted to the program for her eldest daughter, Angel, who was two and a half years old—but she soon realized the program could assist her with much more.
Soon after Caldwell’s daughter started Head Start, Angel’s speech impairment was identified and the center assisted her with getting the services she needed. This same process was repeated a few years later when Caldwell’s son was also diagnosed with a speech impairment.
Because the caring teachers and staff ensured that her children’s special needs were met, Caldwell ultimately had all four of her children attend her local Head Start program. “Head Start knows how to teach kids to get ready for kindergarten. They set up goals for my kids and made sure that they met each one,” she said.
Caldwell also credits the program with teaching her to appreciate and adjust to diversity, while also providing her formal education in early childhood education through the Family Development Credential. The critical skills she gained now serve her vast community work with Watts Neighborhood Council, First 5 LA Leadership Board, Carver Elementary School and Crenshaw High School Parent Councils, Nickerson Gardens Neighborhood Council, and as a den mother in Boys Scout, Nickerson Gardens Pack.
Although all of Caldwell’s children have graduated from Head Start, she continues to be an advocate for the program. Empowered by her Head Start experiences, she plans to continue her education to become a public servant, and maybe even get into politics… quite possibly becoming “the next Maxine Waters, but of Watts!”