Head Start assists families to assess their own strengths and challenges, then builds on their individual strengths to reach their unique potential. Parents may want to read better, learn English or Spanish, find out about housing opportunities, GED or college classes, find emergency assistance, crisis intervention services, parenting classes, or immigration information. Head Start forms a partnership with parents to find and access the resources available in their community.
Parents are the most important influence on a child's development. Parent involvement is an essential part of every Head Start program. Parents are a part of parent education, program planning and operating activities. Many parents serve as members of Policy Council and Committees. Through participation in training, home visits, parent meetings, and committee work, parents learn about the needs of their children and the community. Many parents volunteer in classrooms, the office, on the bus and in other ways, learning important job skills in the process. Head Start often employs former parents in the program.
Parent involvement means that families take an active role in their child’s education and development, helping to make decisions about their program in partnership with other parents, staff, and program coordinators. The contribution of family experience, perspective, and participation is of tremendous value to Head Start programs.
Parents are respected as adults with interests and aspirations of their own. At the beginning of each year, they develop a plan of activities together which gives them ongoing opportunities to learn, share, and grow.
Through home visits by staff and suggestions for activities which parents and children can do together, staff guide and assist parents in encouraging their children’s development. This kind of parent participation reinforces and supports the child’s total Head Start experience.