Margaret Back was raised in a boarding house in Harlan County, Kentucky and attended Cumberland College. She received a degree in education, but states that she did not enjoy teaching. She secured a job with the Kentucky Welfare Department, and mentions her first impressions of the VISTA (Volunteers In Service To America) workers who she felt were insulting to the mountain people.
Back later found a job working for a Head Start (KIP) program in Kentucky and recalls the problems that she encountered in this program, including the lack of training, lack of staff, and the mismanagement of money. She remembers some of the children that she worked with in the Head Start program and encountering child neglect and abuse for the first time. When the program in her county lost funding, she went to work for a Head Start program in DeKalb County, Georgia. This was an urban county and the children that attended the program were mostly African American. Back states that she did not live in the city, and she explains that she had a lot of trouble because she exposed middle class black families who were using the Head Start program as their babysitter. She eventually left the program and came back to Kentucky where she worked for the state.
Back is very supportive of the Head Start program as a whole. She describes the ways in which the program has helped children to learn, including her own two children. Margaret Back has worked as a social worker in Kentucky.