Community Representative to Policy Committee Policy Number and Last Update (01.02.06e/02-2008)

Description of Purpose and Responsibilities:

The Head Start Performance Standards created a Policy Committee with ability to approve or disapprove certain crucial program decisions. Head Start was one of the very first social service or educational programs to ever require the involvement of clients at the administrative level.

Creators of the program made further stipulations in order to ensure that the parents' role would be carried out as intended. One was the inclusion of Community Representatives on the Policy Committee. Because Head Start is for families with low incomes, authors of the program knew that many parents might have little education, and that administrators, conversely, would likely have degrees or other professional experience. That, coupled with the program's inherent power to threaten parents with withdrawal of services, was the reason for an additional safeguard. Community Representatives are charged with representing the parents' interests on the Policy Committee. They are objective third parties, not dependent upon the program, and established in the community. Their formal education and experience with organizations may be more commensurate with that of the program's administrative personnel.

In consideration of the above the Performance Standards provide yet another check: only 49% of the Policy Committee can be comprised of Community Representatives, thus maintaining parents' voting majority.

Community Representatives are expected to:

  1. Attend all meetings of the Policy Committee,
  2. Speak the same language as the parents,
  3. Vote on all issues before the committee,
  4. Offer recommendations and advice to parents,
  5. Assist parents in their activities, as possible
  6. Advocate for Head Start families and programs.