Emma Butler and Christy Horn’s work in foster care and the court system inspired them to help caregivers of children with textured hair by offering them training.
Butler, who is biracial, felt compelled when many of the white foster parents of Black children kept asking her for help on how to do their child’s hair, Yahoo reports. After seeing a photo of one little girl’s hair, they knew it was time to implement some changes.
“They said it had been a couple weeks since her hair was done, and by looking at the picture I could tell it had been longer than that and it was very glaringly a hygiene issue,” Butler recalled.
They soon learned that caseworkers had been helping white caregivers by doing the child’s hair and purchasing the products all on their own. Butler and Horn were shocked this was still being practiced in 2018.
“We’ve realized that parents in rural communities, even parents here in the metro, they didn’t have access to education or to hair products and tools that were in their price range,” Butler said. “So children’s hair hygiene needs were not being taken care of, and this was disproportionately affecting children of color.”
Later that year, the two launched The Hair Initiative in hopes of helping caregivers in Oklahoma who were raising children with textured hair.
“So many of my coworkers spend money and time to make sure that these kids have proper products and tools,” Horn said. “We kind of realized that there wasn’t a resource and that there needed to be something.”
Attendees of the initiative are taught natural hair basics, including how often to wash and style textured hair and the tools and products to use that prevent damage. The workshops are conducted by professional stylists who also serve as additional resources for adoptive parents. They also serve as an open forum for parents to get answers to their questions and concerns and male and female hair kits for each household.
“Knowing that you’re going to have a child that does have textured hair, you already feel inadequate,” she said. “It just gives you confidence and peace of mind because whether they’re biologically yours or not you want to do what’s best for them, and you want them to have confidence.”