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Policy Council

Policy Council is the parents’ voice in major program decisions, including such things as recruitment, and selection of children, personnel policies, budgets, and funding proposals. Head Start Performance Standards require that every Head Start program has an active Policy Council.

Parent representatives on Policy Council are elected at the beginning of the program year at their Parent Classroom Connection meetings. Each classroom elects parent representatives. Community representatives are people who are interested in the program, such as friends, past Head Start parents, and other community members. They are chosen and approved by Policy Council and the Governing Board. Once approved, they become voting members of Policy Council.

The Policy Council meets the 2nd Wednesday of each month with the exception of June. All meetings are open.

About the Policy Council

Purpose

The purpose of the Policy Council is to make decisions and plan for upgrading the program in areas of planning, general administration, personnel administration, grant application process, and program evaluation. Policy Council members provide a means for parents to be involved in program planning and decision-making, and they represent the ideas and concerns of all Head Start parents.

Composition

The Policy Council is composed of both parents of children currently enrolled in the Heartland Head Start program and representatives from the community. At least 51% of members must be parents of children currently enrolled. Members from the community can include representatives from local businesses; public or private community, civic, and professional organizations; and parents of formerly enrolled children.

Elected Officers
  • Chairperson
  • Vice-chairperson
  • Secretary
  • Treasurer
Terms

Policy Council terms last one year, starting and ending in October. Members may stand for reelection each year, but are limited to serving a total of three one-year terms.

Points to Keep in Mind

Policy Council Members must…

  • Attend meetings regularly
  • Seek to understand the issues being discussed
  • Participate in discussions
  • Help in reaching group decisions
  • Try to understand and use the ideas of other members
  • Evaluate your own contribution
  • Evaluate contributions as a whole
  • Make sure everyone has the right to be heard
  • Honor the rights of the minority and the rule of the majority
  • Take your responsibilities seriously; take yourself lightly!

Policy Council Roles and Responsibilities

In general, Policy Council is responsible for the direction of the program, including program design and operation, and long- and short-term planning goals and objectives.

Specific Responsibilities

Head Start Act 642 (c) (2) (D)

The policy council shall approve and submit to the governing body decisions about each of the following activities:

  • Activities to support active parent involvement
  • Program recruitment, selection, and enrollment priorities
  • Applications for funding and amendments to applications for funding
  • Budget planning for program expenditures, including reimbursement policies
  • Bylaws for the operation of the Policy Council
  • Program personnel policies and decisions regarding the employment of program staff, including standards of conduct and criteria for the employment and dismissal of program staff.
  • Election procedures
  • Recommendations on the selection of delegate agencies
Direct Functions

45 CFR 1304.5 (d) (2)

In addition, Policy Council and Policy Committees must perform the following functions directly:

  • Serve as a link to the Parent Committees, grantee agency governing bodies, public and private organizations, and the communities they serve
  • Assist Parent Committees in communicating with parents enrolled in all program options to ensure that they understand their rights, responsibilities, and opportunities in Head Start and to encourage their participation in the program
  • Assist Parent Committees in planning, coordinating, and organizing program activities for parents with the assistance of staff, and ensuring that funds set aside from program budgets are used to support parent activities
  • Assist in recruiting volunteer services from parents, community residents, and community organizations, and assist in the mobilization of community resources to meet identified needs
  • Establish and maintain procedures for working with the grantee or delegate agency to resolve community complaints about the program.

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