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The Importance of Program Governance In Head Start

One of the many tasks of leadership and mentoring I had as a Head Start Director was as a partner with and coach of the Policy Council. It is a role I miss very much. I get to have a little of this role through my presenting Program Governance workshops and seminars.

Training of Policy Groups and Board members on their roles and responsibilities of Program Governance is a requirement dictated in the Head Start Performance Standards. This training should have multiple levels throughout the year, and not just at the beginning of the new school year. The Policy Council represents a great opportunity for the development of future community leaders; both within the Head Start community and one's community at large.

Many programs do a great job of training their Policy Groups and Board members, but they neglect the importance of training ALL of their staff and volunteers on program governance and shared decision making. When they neglect this education opportunity, they are neglecting a key component of the leadership development strategies for both parents and staff.

​I've always believed in the importance of empowering all of a program's staff and volunteers on the ins and outs of Program Governance. When I was a director, many All-Staff meetings included educating staff on Performance Standards that "didn't directly relate to their services area"; including Program Governance.

Educating the staff took on two purposes. It was about helping them identify and recruit parents for leadership roles in the program: They can't "sell" it if the don't understand it. It is the job of every staff person to recruit and mentor parents and community partners in their shared decision making roles.​

In addition, it was about developing the skills sets of the staff themselves. Having an understanding of other components of the program, other performance standards, gives them a more global perspective. They then see how their sphere is interrelated to other spheres, other services. They come to a better understanding of how all of the parts of the program are interdependent. This global perspective, wide angle vision, is a key skill of leaders.


I'm offering a short webinar on the importance of Program Governance. I've developed a metaphor on how the three groups work together. I'd like to introduce more program policy groups, board members and staff to this metaphor.

I hope you will register for and attend this webinar. Use it as a continuous learning opportunity, or as an introduction to this wonderful seminar before you bring it to your Head Start/Early Head Start organization.


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