Parent Engagement

Parents are recognized as the primary teachers of their children and very important in our program.  Pickwick Early Childhood Center provides many opportunities for parents to be engaged and to assist in program planning.

Here are some ways families can be engaged:

  • Help develop your child’s learning goals.
  • Planning activities for the classroom.
  • Volunteer in the classroom, assisting staff in the day to day operations.  
  • Help staff make name tags, flannel board stores, bulletin boards, playdough, folder games, etc.
  • Participate in parent committee meetings, special activities and events
  • Collaborate with staff to extend classroom learning into the home.
  • Attend class field trips.

PARENT GROUPS

A parent group is composed of staff and parents whose children are enrolled in the program. The parent group helps in the following ways:

  • Planning and implementing activities for the classroom.
  • Planning and implementing activities for special child/adult events.
  • Volunteering in the classroom, in the kitchen, or on the bus.

HEAD START POLICY COUNCIL
Policy Council is a decision-making board of parents and community representatives working closely with the Child Development Director and Head Start Management staff, to provide a quality program for children and families. Policy Council includes current Head Start parents and Community Representatives from each of the seven county service areas. The Council meets in Ottumwa at the main office for a monthly two-hour meeting.
Responsibilities of Policy Council representatives will be to attend regular meetings, share information with your parent groups and/or community as appropriate, serve on Policy Council committee groups, and follow program policies, procedure, and Policy Council By-Laws.

HEAD START HEALTH ADVISORY COMMITTEE
Each Head Start program must have a Health Advisory Committee.  This committee meets twice yearly and is made up of Health Professionals and parents of Head Start children.  The function of the committee is to advise in the planning, day-to-day operations, and evaluation of the Health services provided to children and families. 

HEAD START DISABILITY ADVISORY COMMITTEE
Each Head Start program must have a Disability Advisory Committee. This committee meets twice yearly and is comprised of professionals who serve children and families with special needs and parents of children with special needs. The function of the committee is to advise in the planning, day-to-day operations, and evaluation of the Disability services provided to children and families. 

WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP AS A VOLUNTEER?
Pickwick Early Childhood Center is a state and  federally funded program able to provide FREE educational services to children and families.Pickwick Early Childhood Center programs receive a grant through the Federal Government and is required to match 20% of the grant budget in the form of In-kind; also referred to as our Non-Federal Match. 

In-kind is generated through volunteer hours and/or donations beneficial to the program. The time parents and community members spend volunteering in our program equals specific monetary value. Volunteers follow the same rules and guidelines as our staff. Ways volunteers participate, assisting our program is:

  • Classroom volunteer; assisting with group activities, meal times (including prep and clean-up), engage in center and outside play, read stories, etc. 
  • Assist staff in preparing for activities in the classroom and/or for family events
  • Bus volunteer; riding with children to and from the center with a staff person
  • Attending field trips
  • Speak at Parent Committee meetings or attend Parent Committee Meetings if you are a family member of a student attending the program
  • Attend Policy Council and/or Advisory meetings as a Parent or Community Representative
  • Recruitment; hang/check flyers and tell people you know of the services provided by Pickwick Early Childhood Center. 

*for more ideas and information on how you can help volunteer, request a Volunteer Handbook from your child’s teacher or the building principal.

POLICY ON SOLICITATION OF FUNDS AND/OR MERCHANDISE
The practice of Pickwick Early Childhood Center is to discourage solicitation of funds and/or merchandise from the community and families. In the case of donated funds and/or merchandise, staff will coordinate with their Principal the distribution of donations according to program procedures.  

FUNDRAISING POLICY
It is an established policy that there be NO fund-raising activities allowed within the Pickwick Early Childhood Center  Program.  This includes seeking donations, selling items, bake sales, rummage sales, raffles, and all other activities designated to solicit funds for the expressed purpose of being utilized by parents to support local parent group activities.  Such activities included, but not limited to, parties, extra field trips and gifts.

JOB OPENINGS
All vacancies will be posted on the Ottumwa Community School District website and/or Sieda Community Action website. Current and former student parents will be provided opportunities to participate in the program as employees or volunteers.

AVAILABLE FOR PICKWICK EARLY CHILDHOOD CENTER  PARENTS

  •  Language translation/interpretation 
  •  Reading assistance
  •  Referrals to local partnerships/ agencies for family well-being.

END OF THE YEAR CELEBRATION
End of the year Celebration takes place at the end of the school year.  At this event the children will receive certificates of participation in the Pickwick Early Childhood Center.  Volunteers for the program will receive awards as well.
Parents and teachers  will plan the event at parent meetings.  The plan will be written up and sent to the Building Principal for approval.  We encourage all families and relatives to attend the event.

PARENT AND CHILD SPECIAL ACTIVITIES
Special parent and child activities such as Fatherhood, Motherhood, and Grandparent events are planned throughout the year by parents during the Parent Meetings.  These activities are provided for families to enjoy special times with their children, as well as learning valuable information.  Please plan to attend.

PARENT TRAINING OPPORTUNITIES

  • Attending parent meetings, to support activities 
  • Parents are invited to attend In-Service training with the Head Start staff.
  • Through participation as a Policy Council Representative and/or Committee Representative. 
  • Through Community Referrals
  • PBIS parent modules or Active Parenting-First Five Years parent workshops (*see Mental Health Section pg. 66) 

FAMILY PARTNERSHIP PLAN
Families will engage in a Family Partnership Plan. The plan identifies a goal valuable to the family’s needs and/or wants to strengthen self-sufficiency. Staff can offer suggestions and ideas and will be available to help find information and/or resources needed to meet goals. Goals may change as they are completed, or as a family situation changes. 

If a family has engaged in goals with another program, staff will help work toward those goals as the Family Partnership Plan.  

PARENT/TEACHER CONFERENCES AND HOME VISITS
Staff will complete at least 2 Home Visits throughout the year.  During Home Visits staff will share information, complete necessary paperwork, develop and/or review family goals, and
provide other support families may need.

Teachers will hold 3 Parent/Teacher Conferences during the year. One in the Fall and one in the spring months. This is a time to meet with your child’s teacher to discuss your child’s progress in the classroom and plan educational goals. The last, or third Parent/Teacher Conference will be completed at the end of the school year, possibly combined with a Home Visit, to review your child’s growth and prepare for transition into the upcoming year.

Your child’s teacher will discuss Home Visits and Parent/Teacher Conferences at Parent Orientation or Open House.