Staff at Mid-Columbia Children’s Council provide activities that focus on inclusion of, and attention to, the entire family as well as the influence that community services and social structures have on the family system. The term “parent” is used throughout the organization to represent parents, guardians, foster parents, and grandparents of children in the program. Local resources are used to provide a well-rounded system of services for families based on their expressed needs and interests. Care is given to ensure that parents are given the opportunity to be included in the program in their own language, and cultural respect is a vital part of any interaction with parents.
Mid-Columbia Children’s Council develops relationships with parents to promote their involvement by providing a framework that is clear about agency expectations. Parents are encouraged to view themselves as the primary influence on their child’s development and are supported in their personal growth. Mid-Columbia Children’s Council begins its relationship with parents with a jointly signed document the Letter of Understanding that highlights the mission of the agency and the goals and expectations of the program. Opportunities are provided which allow parents to be included in all aspects of the program. Parents are encouraged to develop activities for their children through home visits, parent conferences, and Parent Committees. Their personal growth and goals are stressed.
Each center has a Parent Committee designed to assist the Teacher/Home Visitor in improving services at their center. Training opportunities and community outreach are possible areas of focus for the group. Parent Committees elect officers who are responsible for planning and facilitating all meetings. Officers are trained and supported by center staff and component coordinators who are available to present and facilitate topics of interest during Parent Committee meetings. A variety of training topics are presented to each Parent Committee at the beginning of the school year and they are encouraged to choose from the list of topics for additional training. CPR and First Aid training, nutrition training, and activities parents can do with their child are popular topics.
Through the local Parent Committees, parents learn about Mid-Columbia Children’s Council and are recruited for Policy Council. The Policy Council works in partnership with staff and the Board of Directors. They approve policies, procedures, staffing and budget decisions. To encourage and support participation, parents are reimbursed for travel and childcare and when necessary food and lodging. Parents active in Parent Committees and Policy Council are given training opportunities that include the yearly Leadership Training, State Association Meetings three times per year in Oregon and twice yearly in Washington and other local, regional, and national conferences. Parent involvement is also encouraged by providing oral and written information and communication in English and Spanish.