Why do Head Start and Early Head Start have a Policy Council?

When Head Start began in 1965, its founders understood that parents are essential partners in educating young children. They felt parents should help decide how Head Start services can most benefit their family and other families in the community.

Head Start created the Policy Council as a formal leadership and policy-making role for parents. Today, every Head Start and Early Head Start program must have a Policy Council as part of its leadership structure. Through the Policy Council, parents have a voice in decisions about how the program spends money, what children do in their classrooms, and how the program works with community partners.

Children, parents, and the program benefit when parents take on leadership roles. Children learn more and experience healthier development at school and at home. Parents can become more confident, gain skills, and connect with other parents and staff. Program staff learn about the strengths, interests, and needs of the children, families, and community they serve.