Head Start/Early Head Start (HS/EHS) was modeled on well-researched interventions that included strong parenting services as part of the program. HS/EHS has taken strides in returning to two of its original tenets, honoring the parent-child relationship and empowering parents to nurture their children’s learning and development. The Office of Head Start infused new energy into partnering with families by establishing a National Center on Parent, Family and Community Engagement (PFCE). One of the Center’s first tasks was to introduce the PFCE Framework. This is a thoughtful guide for programs to follow in building relationships with families that support family well-being, parent-child relationships, and ongoing learning and development for children so they are ready for school and successful in their early school years.
Parent, Family and Community Engagement Framework and Performance Standards
The PFCE Framework walks programs through the process of implementing Program Performance Standards related to parents, families and communities. It outlines the Program Foundations, Program Impact Areas, and Family Engagement Outcomes that ultimately lead to positive Child Outcomes. These essential elements effectively build strong relationships between parents and children, families and staff, and between programs and communities, leading to children’s healthy development. The PFCE Center developed two resources to help programs implement this conceptual framework. First, Bringing the Parent, Family, and Community Engagement Framework to Your Program: Beginning a Self-Assessment offers a series of questions to reflect on what’s working well, where changes may be needed in your program, and information needed to document your services and outcomes. Second, Using the Head Start Parent, Family, and Community Engagement Framework in Your Program: Markers of Progress provides a program assessment tool to assess strengths, areas for growth and to plan a path to high quality engagement of families and communities.
Two of the family outcomes in the PFCE Framework are of special interest to me as a former home visitor, and evaluator of parenting programs: Positive Parent-Child Relationships and Families as Lifelong Educators. The value of nurturing parent-child relationships and parents’ support for their children’s learning and development are well-established in numerous research studies (For examples, see Assessing What Matters to Children: Parenting). EHS longitudinal studies have documented positive parenting outcomes (e.g. supportive behavior during parent-child play, parent reading to her child) and, in turn, advances in children’s development.
While Head Start/Early Head Start (HS/EHS) has long recognized the key role of parents in their program efforts to boost children’s development, a 2012 Report of the Advisory Committee on Head Start Research and Evaluation found a greater focus on child than parent/family outcomes The Advisory Committee spotlighted the importance of parenting to children’s development, as delineated in the PFCE Framework, and called for new analyses to identify evidence-based practices that target intermediate parent/family outcomes linked to child development outcomes. Their recommendations extended from the federal to the local level and called for HS/EHS to give equal attention to parenting/family and child outcomes. They further called for deeper studies to discover how to work most effectively with families experiencing multiple risks (e.g. teenage parenting, depression, family violence), including using strength-based assessments and tailoring services to individual needs.
Why Is HS/EHS Renewed Focus on Parenting Important?
Children’s early relationships with their parents are the foundation for all interpersonal relationships throughout their lifetimes, and the ones that contribute greatest to children’s learning and development. Your program can help parents build the foundation of strong relationships with their infants, toddlers and preschoolers, and create rich learning opportunities that have lifelong impact. If you’re preparing for a program monitoring review that influences renewal of your funding or for competitive review of your grant proposal, consider including a parenting assessment tool such as the Keys to Interactive Parenting Scale, KIPS. Addressing Family and Community Engagement, KIPS will guide staff in engaging and partnering with families, with the added value of documenting improvement in nurturing parenting skills, and giving your program an advantage in the competition!
Will KIPS Meet Your Parenting Assessment Needs?
Find Out if KIPS Is Right for Your Program by Scheduling a 30 Minute KIPS Fit Consultation with a KIPS Author
Together We Will Review Five Steps to Check KIPS' Fit with Your Program
- See if Your Parenting Goals Match KIPS
- Explore How Your Current Assessments Align with KIPS
- Consider How Your Supervision Can Support KIPS Success
- Discuss Prior Online Training Experience to Guide KIPS Training Options
- Determine if Your Case Load Is Compatible with KIPS Success
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