Phase Training Promotes Success of HCHRA Head Start Program

Hinds County Human Resource Agency (HCHRA) completed Phase IV Training on January 12, 2019, where Head Start Parent Committee Officers, the Head Start the Policy Council, and members of the HCHRA Board of Directors participated in a day full of sessions to learn more about Head Start Program performance standards, ongoing monitoring of the program and continuous improvement.

As indicated by its name, Phase Training is a series of training sessions provided to HCHRA’s governing bodies to make sure that new and returning members understand program operations, their roles in governance, and how to effectively impact program outcomes.  Training begins shortly after the start of the new school year once new Policy Council and Parent Committee members are seated, and the sessions are conducted throughout the school year to make sure there is proper ongoing monitoring through ongoing oversight and correction, which ultimately result in performance and progress towards meeting program goals.

Phase I training was conducted in August of 2018 at the very beginning of the school year.  It provided an overview of the Head Start program; rights, roles and responsibilities; conducting effective meetings; and the benefit of parental involvement.  To ensure effective operations, Phase II Training was offered in October.  During this session, attendees focused the Head Start Program Performance Standards and how they related to the successful operation of each program component. Phase III Training, on Head Start Program Governance, was held over the course of three days from November 30 to December 2, 2018, and provided an in depth look at the responsibilities that members of the governing bodies hold for overseeing the Head Start program. It highlighted the importance of the governing body’s full participation in the development, planning, implementation and evaluation of the Head Start program, and also covered how data is to be used to identify program strengths and needs, develop and implement plans that address program needs, and continually evaluate compliance with program performance standards to ensure continuous improvement.

HCHRA’s Phase Training is built around the idea of “maximum feasible participation.” It is the belief that low-income citizens should take an active role in designing and developing programs that benefit them because they can determine what helps them the most.  As called for by Head Start legislation, HCHRA understands that the participation of our Head Start parents in governance gives our families a strong voice.  “HCHRA uses these training sessions to not only mold parents into leaders, but to also empower them to be decision makers, and to learn empowerment strategies to become catalysts for community action efforts,” said Kenn Cockrell, president and CEO for HCHRA.

HCHRA understands that in order to be successful, it is essential that the Head Start Program reflects the community as a whole and is very well versed on operations, governance, ongoing monitoring, and adherence to performance standards.  HCHRA has a Board of Directors that shares responsibility for the delivery of high-quality Head Start services to children and families.  The Policy Council is the policy making authority and is made up of Head Start parents elected by parents of children enrolled in each center and community representatives selected by the Board of Directors and approved by the elected parent representatives. The Parent Committee is comprised exclusively of parents of children currently enrolled at each center.  “We invest a lot of time and resources in providing training to our governing bodies.  It is our goal to make sure they are well equipped to oversee our continuous improvement and success,” said Cockrell.