Parent Involvement is a "critical" part of the Head Start program. The Parent Involvement Content Area involves parents at all levels of the program. Without parent participation in the program we would not have an effective program. Parents have 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.

Parent Involvement provides parents the opportunity to work together and decide what kinds of learning experiences they want their child(ren) to have in Head Start/Early Head Start.  Parents should participate in Head Start/Early Head Start for the benefit of the children enrolled in the program.  Providing a good Head Start program will take dedicated people working together, sharing their ideas, talents, knowledge and energy so that the children can receive the greatest benefits.  The more knowledge and energy parents and staff invest in the program, the better the program will be.

Monthly Parent Meetings
A Parent Committee is established at each center to provide every parent of an enrolled child 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.  All parents of enrolled children are automatically members of the Parent Committee at their child's center.  Parents work with staff to plan, coordinate, organize activities, volunteer in the classrooms and other areas of the center, participate in recruiting, and share their areas of expertise with other parents and staff.  Each center Parent Committee should meet at least once a month.

Parent Committee Elections & Training
The Parent Involvement & Fatherhood Coordinator will facilitate Center Parent Elections and Policy Council Representatives.  Parents will be given the opportunity to volunteer as members of the nominating committee at this time.  Members of this committee may not be nominated for any office.

Select a date in September that will provide parents an opportunity to meet and nominate other parents for the Parent Committee Executive Offices and for Policy Council Offices.  A slate of officers is established by the nominating committee, parents nominating themselves or by other parents nominating them.  No other business should be conducted so that parents are given opportunity to familiarize themselves with the election process.  A sample ballot for each parent is prepared listing the names of nominees for each office.  Parents running for office will provide written information regarding their experiences on the resume form.  The center manager will explain the responsibilities of the Officers and answer questions parents may have at that time.

Once a full slate of officers has been established (a total of at least two parents for each office: Chairperson, Co-Chairperson, Treasurer, Secretary, and Policy Council Representatives who are representative of the centers enrollment. The ballot forms and copies of the resumes will be provided to center parents so they may enter their vote.  Nominees may not run for two Center Parent Committee Executive Offices at the same time.  However, they may run for a Center Parent Committee Executive Office and for a Policy Council Office.  A simple majority of the total number of the center's actual enrollment must vote in order to deem the election valid.  The nominating committee will read each position and the name elected while the Center Manager (or any designated staff) records each vote on a Ballot Count Sheet.  Once all ballots are totaled, the highest number of votes is elected to each office.  The office term is effective until one-year from the date of the election or until the next annual election.  The parent committee must be established as early in the program year as possible (no later than the third Thursday of October).  The following completed forms will be submitted to the Parent Involvement & Fatherhood Coordinator:
"        Ballot Count Form (showing tally of the votes collected)
"        Completed Ballots (original)
"        Center Parent Committee Elected Officers List (name, address, and telephone numbers of the newly elected officers)

Parent Aide Volunteer In Education (PAVE)
Head Start/Early Head Start offers parents training called PAVE (Parent Aide Volunteer in Education). This training offers a better understanding of the program and enables parents to receive a stipend for volunteer services upon completion.  Please note that PAVE training is only available during the morning on Mondays and Wednesdays.

PAVE training is given twice per year October and January for six weeks each session.  PAVE affords parents the opportunity to received training in child development of which they can use in the classroom or the kitchen. If you have any free time during the day and like to work with children sign up at your center.
  
Policy Council
A formal structure of program governance provides parents and other community representatives with the authority and opportunity to participate in the shared decision-making process concerning program design and implementation.  The Policy Council works together with key management staff, the CEO and the Board of Directors in a shared-governance capacity.

At least 51% of the Council members are parents of children currently enrolled in the Head Start/Early Head Start programs.  Other parents of enrolled children at the Head Start Center elect parent members to the Policy Council.

Male Involvement
The Long Island Head Start Fatherhood Initiative encourages change in the way men perceive their roles in relation to their children and in their communities.  The Fatherhood Project provides an opportunity for fathers and significant male role models in the lives of children to share their experiences.

The objective of this effort is to promote the participation of fathers/significant other males in the school life of their children, particularly during the early childhood development stages, by providing a positive male presence within and educational setting, which children often lack. "Dads Make a Difference."

Fathers and significant other males, with the assistance of Head Start staff, plan male focus groups, Male Roundtable Discussion Groups, and other male involvement initiatives.  In addition, the "Wednesday is Father's Day" program has been adopted at all centers as a mechanism to give fathers/significant other males the opportunity to express how they can build a meaningful relationship with their children. We would like to extend this program to include "every day is Father's Day" allowing additional days for fathers, Significant other males the opportunity to develop meaningful relationships with their children as well.

Additional objectives are to: increase the involvement of fathers in Head Start Early Head Start programs, as well as in the lives of their children; increase the availability of services appropriate for the needs of fathers; increase the skills and sensitivity of staff working with fathers and more.  Emphasis will be placed on improving the social, physical, emotional and financial welfare of Head Start and Early Head Start children and their families through the active involvement of the father and/or significant other male in their lives.