Options for Full-Day Services for Children Participating in Head Start . Parent Involvement


Parent involvement activities are supervised by the Tulare program's Head Start Parent Involvement Coordinator and are planned and run by the 27 center supervisors. All parents are eligible to participate in the parent involvement component, regardless of the source(s) that fund their child's participation. The parent involvement coordinator said that the parents "... all think of themselves as Head Start, particularly because they all have roughly the same incomes." When children's parents are unable to attend parent involvement activities, several centers recruit teenaged siblings or grandparents to serve as "extended family parents."

Each center has a parent committee of five representatives elected or approved by all of the center's parents. The chairman of each center committee sits on the Head Start Policy Council,33 which meets once a month in the evening. (Babysitting and mileage are provided by the program.) The Policy Council approves all hiring and termination decisions for any program staff member, even though staff are only funded in part by Head Start.

Since many parents are seasonal farm laborers, they often are unable to participate in Head Start in a conventional manner, such as classroom volunteering. Instead, centers conduct lunch hour parent meetings and monthly evening parent education classes. Training topics at the meetings are determined by the Policy Council's three-year plans and by annual parent education surveys, which ask parents about their training needs. In this way, says the parent involvement coordinator, parents have input into and "ownership" of their parent education activities. At these meetings, staff provide parents with "home learning activities," which parents can continue to use at home with their children.

Some parents come to the center on weekends to provide in- kind donations of yard work and equipment or facilities repair. Parents also provide to the program fresh produce they have harvested and complete program administrative work or make classroom materials at home. Last year, parents raised $29,000 for the program through garage sales and raffles underwritten by local merchants. One center holds a weekend "parent carnival" to help parents socialize.