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Mel Gravely

Why Should Parents Serve on Policy Council?

policy councilAs Head Start professionals, we know that Head Start needs parents’ input to succeed. With new regulations cropping up and in an ever-changing world, the guidance of parents is sorely needed to run a program that meets the needs of the community, the children, and parents.

However, when talking with parents and trying to gauge interest in volunteering for Policy Council, it can sometimes be difficult in the moment to come up with all the reasons that they should get involved. We often forget to focus on the benefits of serving, instead of the burden of serving.

During your conversations with parents, be sure to highlight the good! From networking with other parents, to making a difference in the greater community, the benefits to parents and their families can be transformational.

Here are some of the benefits to highlight when talking with parents:

  • You get a Head Start/Early Head Start tailored to the needs.
  • You become a role model in volunteering for your friends and family.
  • You are exposed to our diverse group of parents, who will become your friends.
  • You learn more about our community and its needs.
  • You improve your communication with staff members.
  • You gain awareness of how Head Start/Early Head Start works.
  • You become a Head Start ambassador, and learn how to explain Head Start to others.
  • You are actively involved in shaping your child’s education and future.

Remind them that Policy Council meets once a month and is composed of parents like them, who care. The Council meets and votes on important policies that can change the way a Head Start/Early Head Start works. From selecting new children, to daily schedule changes, to unfamiliar staff, we talk about it all. Parents help the program make decisions, and their vote matters.

Head Start will help them attend Policy Council meetings, by:

  • Scheduling them at a time that works for you.
  • Reminding you about upcoming meetings using text, email and voicemails.
  • Reimbursing you for allowable expenses, as necessary.
  • Listening to your ideas and seeking your input.
  • Making the meeting pleasant for you by including snacks.
  • Explaining how you can help us.
  • Training and coaching you.
  • Helping you with transportation as needed.

Overall, communities that Head Start serves are diverse, and so are those communities’ needs. How would Head Start look if parents were not involved in shaping policies?

When speaking with parents about Policy Council, it’s important to let parents know that they can make a difference for their child, their Head Start/Early Head Start and their community.

For more information, read our Eight Ways to Get and Keep Policy Council Members.

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