Family Toolkit: Family Engagement
The Guam Head Start Program recognizes that parent and family engagement is important at every level for children’s school readiness and success. Parent and family engagement is way of involving families in decisions about themselves, their children, services, and their communities.
Family engagement is an essential part of every Head Start Program is to support and strengthen parent-child relationships and engage families around children’s learning and development. Participation in parent-child projects and/or activities support class lesson plans and activities. Your involvement is essential to the success of the Program and most especially, to your child’s development.
What is Family Engagement?
- Head Start recognizes parents as their children’s primary teachers and nurturers.
- Family engagement is a process through which staff, families, and children build positive and goal-oriented relationships.
- Family engagement encourages trust and respectful, ongoing two-way communication between staff and parents to support family well-being.
- Family engagement focuses on building relationships with important family members in a child’s life such as mothers, fathers, grandparents, and other adult caregivers.
- Family engagement honors and supports the parent-child relationships that are central to a child’s healthy development, school readiness, and well-being.
Family Services StaffThese are the people who helped process your child’s application, who you saw at outreaches with Public Health and other community partners, and who you will become very familiar with throughout the year. They contacted you soon after Selection to ensure all health requirements were completed for your child to enter the classroom. They substitute in the classroom when Teaching Staff are ill and they provide support to all the areas of the program. Throughout the year, Family Services Staff may also contact you to discuss attendance issues and other concerns.
The Family Partnership Process
Parents are the most important influence on a child’s development. Because of this, Head Start is based on a partnership between parents and staff that allows them to share with and to learn from one another. The family partnership process helps staff work with parents to identify needs, interests, strengths, goals, and services and resources that support family well-being, including family safety, health, and economic stability
Family Services Staff are assigned to each family to provide support and resources throughout the year. They will begin this process through a Home Visit with you. Head Start requires that we work with you in a family partnership process as early in the school year as possible and continue for as long as your family participates in Head Start. This process includes a Family Assessment where family strengths and needs are identified as well as a Family Partnership Agreement to set goals that use these strengths to support family well-being, to support child learning and development, and to foster parental confidence and skills that promote the early learning and development of their children. We respect your privacy and any information you share is confidential.
- Family Assessment – Family Services Staff work with parents/guardians to identify family strengths and needs related to the family engagement outcomes as described in the Head Start Parent Family and Community Engagement Framework, including family well-being, parent-child relationships, families as lifelong educators, families as learners, family engagement in transitions, family connections to peers and the local community, and families as advocates and leaders.
- Family Partnership Agreement – When your family’s needs are determined, Family Services Staff will work with you to create a Family Partnership Agreement that will define your family’s goals related to those needs and the steps needed to help you and your family reach your goals. Referrals can be made on your behalf to agencies and programs in the community that can provide the services and resources you need.
- Updates – Family Services Staff will contact you during the year to review individual progress, revise goals, evaluate and track whether identified needs and goals are met, and adjust strategies on an ongoing basis, as necessary. This Family Assessment will also be updated later in the year.
Home Visits with Family Services StaffHome visits are one of the ways that we engage parents in their children’s learning and development and support parent-child relationships. Home visits are conducted in a way that ensures families have the opportunity to share personal information in an environment in which they feel safe. This is what you can expect during a Home Visit:
- An open discussion about the interactions of the parent and child, sibling relationships, concerns, goals and cultural values
- An open discussion with families to identify interests, needs, and aspirations related to the family engagement outcomes as described in the Head Start Parent Family and Community Engagement (PFCE) Framework
- A Family Partnership Agreement that is jointly developed by parents and staff which will be used to review individual progress, revise goals, evaluate and track whether identified needs and goals are met, and adjust strategies on an ongoing basis, as necessary,
- An opportunity to ask any questions or make recommendations that address a concern or area of strength
The Office of Head Start (OHS) Parent, Family, and Community Engagement (PFCE) Framework is a road map for progress designed to help Head Start programs achieve outcomes that lead to positive and enduring change for children and families. The PFCE framework shows Head Start Families and Staff the positive relationship between the Program and Families that is needed to get our children ready for school. It emphasizes the need for Parent and Family focused techniques in every area of the program to produce the Child Outcomes that Parents and the Program want to see for all children. Parent and family engagement outcomes are grounded in positive, ongoing, and goal-oriented relationships with families.