Recently, I had two delightful experiences of visiting with Melissa S. Burnett. She serves as the Family and Community Engagement Manager of Lutheran Services Florida, Inc. Pinellas Head Start/Early Head Start headquarters in Largo.
My two visits included visiting a center in St. Petersburg, and I was pleased to learn about Head Start’s increased focus on increasing parental engagement, which included the organization of a “father’s group.”
“Head Start has been a moving force in Pinellas County for decades. It has served the low-income families and children of its communities and made a difference while giving children a head start on their educational journey,” said Burnett.
She went on to say that getting parent buy-in is a tough task, but one that must be done to help give children what they need. Head Start in this county, now under the skillful guide of Lutheran Services Florida, has put into place a plan to help increase parent engagement.
LSF Head Start has focused on three key areas that promote parent involvement and will Increase Parent Engagement.
The Parent Involvement plan involves activities that get parents into their child’s center to volunteer in the many different areas of the center. Each week has a theme which ties into the month’s theme, such as February’s theme which is, “I’m A Super Head Start Parent”. February is also National Head Start Parent Involvement Month, and the month will climax with a celebration and highlights of the month’s events. Everyone that is involved in the life of a Head Start child is encouraged to participate.
The Male Involvement plan is focused on the male role models that are a part of the Head Start child’s life. This group of men, which calls itself “Fathers of Standards,” is on a mission to engage men to take a more active role in the lives and education of their children. The Fathers of Standard meet on a monthly basis to support, educate, and evaluate their role as fathers and father figures. They also have a scheduled monthly activity that occurs simultaneously throughout all of the Head Start centers.
The Mother’s Group plan, like the Male Involvement plan, seeks to engage females involved in a Head Start child’s life to take an active role in getting the child ready for educational success. The Mother’s group calls itself “Women Empowering Future Generations” and it is truly making a difference in the lives of not only its own children, but also all of the children of the Head Start Family. The women of this group also meet on a monthly basis, and try to empower each other with interesting topics, such as February’s focus on literacy.
Parent engagement has an impact like no other on a child’s life. From their family life to their education, no one makes a bigger impact than those who are a part of the child’s life and development. LSF Head Start is a leading force in the quest to increase parent engagement and empower parents, grandparent, aunts, and uncles to give children the Head Start they need.
This column is excited by this initiative and will follow up on the Parent Engagement and Empower Parents Project in order to determine the number of dads and moms participating on a monthly and or weekly consistent basis.
To readers: Your opinions related to “Rainey’s Bulletin” are welcomed. Pastor Rainey serves as Community Outreach Pastor for the Faith Memorial MB Church, Rev. Dr. Bragg L. Turner, Senior Pastor. Also Pastor Rainey serves as President of the Parent Support For Education Council, Inc., and Chairman, JWB South County Community Council, and may be contacted: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone: (727) 420-1326 The Parent Council meets every 3rd Thursday of each month @ 6:30pm, Faith Memorial Missionary Baptist 1800 18th Ave. S., St. Petersburg, at the (Resource Center), to the right and adjacent to Church. The community is welcome.