Planning for Head Start Success Through Shared Governance

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Effective governance is an essential part of any successful Head Start program.  East Coast Migrant Head Start Project is proud of the strong partnership we have with our Board of Directors and Policy Council!  Their great leadership and unwavering dedication to the mission allows us to provide comprehensive, high-quality early childhood education and Head Start services to farmworker families.

Each year, the ECMHSP Board of Directors and Policy Council meet to fulfill their shared responsibilities and, in collaboration with the ECMHSP management team, provide strategic direction for the organization.  This year, the ECMHSP Shared Governance Meeting took place on July 20 in Raleigh, North Carolina, the location of ECMHSP’s headquarters.

Leading up to the Shared Governance Meeting, the Board of Directors and Policy Council members met with their respective standing committees.  Each committee meeting is filled with rich discussions as the members delve deep into their corresponding topics and do “the heavy lifting” in fulfilling their responsibilities.  Policies and program data is reviewed; proposals are made and debated; and committee recommendations are prepared for presentation to the governing bodies.

The Board of Directors and Policy Council built on the momentum from the committee meetings and met last Friday for their annual Shared Governance Meeting.  The President of the Board of Directors, Dr. David Conde, called the meeting to order and initiated introductions, followed by a moment of silence in solidarity with the children and families currently separated at the US/Mexico border and remain in detention or have been deported.  Then the President of the Policy Council, Meiby Mora Soto, presented her report, The View from the Policy Council, which exalted significant milestones and activities achieved by the Policy Council over the past year.  Following her report, ECMHSP’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Jose S. Villa, provided his report, The View from the CEO, which provided a review of accomplishments and challenges of the organization.

The Board of Directors assumes legal and fiscal responsibility for the organization and charged with safeguarding the Head Start federal funds.  Each year, they are presented with the results of the external financial audit to ensure the organization’s financial statements are in compliance.  The external auditing firm provided Board and the Policy Council with this year’s report, which contained no significant findings.  You can view the results of the most recent audited financial statements on our website.

During the annual Shared Governance Meeting, the Board and Policy Council are provided with presentations on policies and applications that require their joint approval.  This year, they approved the 2018-19 Migrant and Seasonal Head Start grant application, the ECMHSP Strategic Plan for the following five years, and the updates to ECMHSP Shared Decision-Making and Internal Dispute Resolution Procedures.

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Norma Flores López, Governance and Collaboration/Development Manager, with the ECMHSP Governance Team.

In between the thoughtful discussions and thorough presentations, the Board of Directors and Policy Council made time to celebrate as well.  The Policy Council hosted a beautiful baby shower for the Governance Manager, which became a night filled with fun activities, lots of laughter, and—most importantly to our tiniest guests—delicious cake!  At the conclusion of the Shared Governance meeting, the President of the Board of Directors also hosted a reception to provide the meeting attendees an opportunity to get to know each other outside of the board room.

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ECMHSP Policy Council

The insightful input and careful decisions made by the Board of Directors and Policy Council provide ECMHSP with a road map to success for our Head Start program.  The farmworker families we serve from Lake Okeechobee, Florida, to Lake Erie, Pennsylvania, will benefit from last week’s shared decision-making and can rest assured that the leadership of ECMHSP remains as committed as ever to their families’ well-being.  We look forward to next year’s Shared Governance Meeting in Washington, D.C!

A Safe Haven for Farmworker Families

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The ECMHSP Hendersonville Head Start Center opened on Monday, June 25.  Mayra Lozano, Family Services Coordinator, was one of the most eager staff members receiving our farmworker families on the first day of the season.  About 20 children showed up ready to learn.

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An ECMHSP parent is excited to pick up her children.

The ECMHSP Hendersonville Center is unique because it’s located in Western North Carolina.  The county is known as the Apple County because it’s surrounded by apple orchards.  Besides harvesting apples, this center’s families also work with tomatoes, corn, strawberries, bell peppers, and squash.  They also work pack a variety of produce and at nurseries.

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Mayra Lozano, Family Services Coordinator, reading to the children at the Hendersonville Center.

Mayra has been part of the ECMHSP family since 2017.  However, her experience at Telamon started in 2012, so she brings our organization plenty of experience.  She knows first-hand how much farmworker families sacrifice.  Although Mayra was only nine-years-old at the time, she recalls the day her dad fell off the ladder while picking oranges in Florida.  The consequences would be life-changing because her dad broke two discs in his spinal cord.  Seeing that her dad lost his ability to walk due to this accident shaped the rest of her life.  Mayra knows that many farmworker families would struggle without the services that ECMHSP provide, so she always goes out of her way to give her very best.  She knows how important it is to provide farmworkers’ kids a safe haven for learning while their parents are doing back-breaking labor in the fields.