My name is Barbara Shields. My current position is Mental Health/Disabilities Coordinator for the Hampton Roads Community Action Program Head Start program. I am a past parent, who worked as a volunteer for the Head Start program in October 1981. My daughter was enrolled in the 4-year-old program at that time. I attended the center meetings and volunteered in my daughter’s class. I was asked to become a member of the Policy Council, February 1982.
During the summer of 1982, a pilot program was in the making in which Head Start wanted to employ parents. I was asked to be a part of that pilot program. I completed the necessary paperwork, started working September 1, 1982, as a Teacher Assistant. I was excited and enjoyed working with children. My experience in the classroom was wonderful. Head Start afforded me the opportunity to further my education. After being employed for a year, I was accepted at Thomas Nelson Community College and enrolled in Early Childhood Educational Classes to assist my career in working with young children. I worked 3 years (9/82 until 9/85) in the classroom until Head Start did an organizational change.
I then transitioned to Health Service Area as a Health Assistant. The position duties were to assist families in obtaining a medical home, to ensure that all children enrolled in the Head Start program were up-to-date with their physicals, shots, dental exams and all medical needs were addressed. Also, as Health Assistant, I made sure that all health screenings were completed within 45 days, according to the Performance Standards. During that time frame, I was able to obtain my CDL to be able to transport children to and from the health clinics. I continued my education at Thomas Nelson Community College in which I had selected health related classes. The health position was held for 6 years, (9/85 until 1/91).
As the program grew, I transitioned to the position of Case Manager. (I also had a bus run, for a Hampton class). With the Case Manager position, I had a caseload of 50 to 57 families. I assisted with taking applications, screening applications, enrolling children, and meeting with families. As a Case Manager, I was able to build a good/positive rapport with the families through the Family Partnership Agreement. Family goals were set, homes visits were conducted on each family and medical concerns were addressed for the children. I gave parents referral information as needed, and assisted with conducting parent center meetings. I was responsible for monitoring/completing weekly attendance, completed monthly reports, attended bi-monthly meetings and met with the supervisor when needed. I wanted to become more knowledgeable with case management. I enrolled at Thomas Nelson Community College in the Public Service/Human Services program. I graduated in December 2006, with an Associates Degree. As I continued to work in the Head Start program, I also valued and continued my education. I enrolled at Kaplan University and took on-line classes in Human Services Management. I graduated in 2011 with a Bachelors Degree.
In September 2014, the Case Management Service Area was given specialized responsibilities, and mine was to work with the Mental Health Disabilities Coordinator. I assisted with recruitment by distributing Head Start flyers to outside agencies. I assisted with mental health meetings, attended Individual Educational Plan (IEP) meetings and met with different counseling services staff. In April 2015, I was involved with Mental Health Services training, due to the coordinator going out on maternity leave in May. My training consisted of service area forms, conducting meetings, updating contracts/ Memorandums of Understanding (MOU), and reviewing information for enrollment of student with possible disabilities. We reviewed the Head Start Performance Standards-1308, tracking information, referral process for staff, and monitoring documents. I made contacts to parent with appointments, and reviewed student’s folders. In mid-August, I was offered the position of Mental Health/Disabilities Coordinator. I have continued to make progress in this particular service area. I enjoy being a part of the Management Team. I have met new people from parents to the many Community Representatives that I am in contact with on a daily basis.
Head Start has afforded me the opportunity to give our children and community a fighting chance. And for that, I am grateful.