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


Parent involvement is a challenge for all of the full-day programs. The family service worker for full-day programs works with all of the full-day providers to promote family involvement. Parent meetings for all programs are held in the evenings, and child care and food are provided.

Special activities for family child care families include: (1) a parent newsletter, to which parents may contribute items; (2) a parent lending library at each provider's home, to encourage parents to read to their children; and (3) monthly parent meetings clustered by location. A summer picnic was held for the family day care families, attended by about 80 parents, children, and providers (both Head Start and non-Head Start) in family child care, the homeless program, and the center program located in transitional housing.

The center-based programs also make special efforts around parent involvement. At Redmond Family Village, parenting skills classes and monthly parent meetings are held in the evenings in the transitional housing facility. The program has a monthly newsletter for parents, and encourages parents to contribute articles and announcements. At Bellevue, Head Start has strong parent involvement because many of the parents are located on campus, and staff are careful to pay attention to parents' school schedules, not planning anything during mid-term and final examination periods. At Families First, a parent serves as parent volunteer coordinator, paid with Head Start funds. This staffing arrangement gives credibility to the role and is a good way to keep parents involved. The program also has a dad-to-dad program, with a father as coordinator.

Since parents bring and pick up their children at the full- day programs, there is an opportunity for daily parent contact with staff. Especially in the case of family child care providers, a close relationship usually develops with parents, and providers find it easy to suggest ways that parents can become involved with their child's program, such as preparing materials for the classroom or working on the parent newsletter.