Parents are the most important influence in their children’s development. An essential part of the Head Start program is the involvement of parents in Parent Meetings, Pre-service Training, In-service Training, parent education, program planning and center operational activities.
Many parents serve on the Policy Council, Health Advisory Committee, Center Parent Committee, and other committees. Parents gain knowledge about the developmental stages of their children and about educational, health and nutritional activities that can be carried out at home through participation in classes, workshops and home visits provided by the Head Start program.
Head Start parents are encouraged to volunteer in all service areas of Head Start. Examples of areas for parent volunteers include, but are not limited to, assisting the education staff in such activities as storytelling and supervising play activities, assisting the health services staff in providing health services, assisting the family services staff with recruitment of children assisting the nutrition staff with food preparation and kitchen clean-up, and assisting the transportation staff with bus monitoring.
P a r ent/Teacher Conferences are held at least twice a year to discuss the children’s progress toward needs identified by the children’s parents and teachers. Parents are notified in writing and the time of conference is worked out with the parents’ work/school schedule. Additional conferences may need to be held if certain situations occur, such as a change in the child’s behavior that cannot be resolved using established Head Start procedures. Parents can also request a conference by contacting the Center Coordinator.
P arents are encouraged to access the Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center (ECLKC) at www.eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov for information regarding parenting techniques, learning games and techniques, early childhood health and development, and other related topics of interest. The information is also provided in Spanish.
All parents of enrolled children are automatically members of a Parent Committee, which is formed at the center-level. Parent Committees provide every parent of an enrolled child with the opportunity to assist in the development of activities that address their interests and needs and that support the education and healthy development of their children.
The Policy Council has policy-making authority and is governed by locally determined bylaws that ensure clarity and consistency in function and purpose. Membership of the Policy Council is made up of at least 51% of current Head Start parents. The remaining representatives are community representatives who have a concern for children of low-income eligible families.