Policy Council Makes Critical Decisions

posted 9/8/21 -- Working with parents and supporting children and families along positive developmental pathways really does give families a good "Head Start."

Head Start centers itself on strengthening parenting and supporting families so that children thrive and succeed.

“We know that parents are their child’s first teachers,” said Head Start Director Shauna Matelski, Ed.D. “It’s important to have a group of parents coming together to make decisions for their child’s program.”

“It gives them an opportunity to help us make decisions that are going to be right for the program and for their child,” she added. “So Head Start has always placed an emphasis on the Parent Policy Council.”

Parents are elected by their centers to serve on Policy Council. Policy Council members review budgets, human resources needs and curriculum. They also have an opportunity to share any successes or concerns from the center they represent.

“We want to make sure we’re meeting everyone’s needs in Lorain County and this is an opportunity to get feedback on a regular basis,” said Education and Disabilities Specialist Jennifer Bartlebaugh.

Policy Council members also have an opportunity to attend trainings and conferences locally, statewide and nationally. Parents also typically accompany Head Start managers to advocate for the program in Washington D.C.

The support they receive as members of Policy Council often leads parents to make changes in their own lives. Many members have gone on to work for LCCAA, open businesses or earn degrees. Most importantly, they have learned how to advocate for their children as their school careers continue, said Assistant Head Start Director Stefanie Drew.

“The opportunity to work alongside the director, program staff and other parents allows them to say ‘I can do this!’ and ‘I can do other things,’” Drew added.

Once elected at parent meetings, Council members come together to elect their officers. The commitment for most parents is approximately two hours per month. For officers, slightly more time is required. The President of Policy Council also has a full voting seat on the LCCAA Board of Directors where they can continue to advocate for the program.

For 2020-2021, Policy Council met by Zoom. When in person meetings can be resumed safely, they will include a meal, child care and mileage reimbursement.