When Head Start began in 1965, its founders understood that parents are essential partners in educating young children. They felt parents should help decide how Head Start services can most benefit their family and other families in the community.

Policy Council is a formal leadership and policy-making role for parents. Today, every Head Start and Early Head Start program must have a Policy Council as part of its leadership structure. Through the Policy Council, parents have a voice in decisions about how the program spends money, what children do in their classrooms, and how the program works with community partners.

Policy Council members are elected by the parents of children enrolled in the program. Policy Council membership is 51% currently enrolled parents and 49% community members.