Raise your hand if you’re in favor of positive parent-child relationships. . . . My hand’s up. Is yours? The great news is we are not alone. We now have friends in high places. If you are affiliated with a family service organization, it’s likely that promoting positive parent-child relationships has been one your major program outcomes for years (see listings in HOMVEE, CEBC). In 2016, the U.S. government has followed in your footsteps and written the parent-child relationship into policy. During the last couple of months we’ve seen 3 major federal announcements spotlighting parenting. At last, policy for child and family services is following the longstanding research detailing the benefits of positive parenting for children’s health, brain development and learning.Read More
KIPS Blog: Parenting Assessment in Practice & Research
A couple of weeks ago I was invited to co-facilitate a workshop on parenting assessment with Heather Nusbaum, Early Childhood Education Specialist, Ohio Head Start Training and Technical Assistance Center, at the Ohio Head Start Association Leadership and Professional Development Conference. Approximately 200 Program Directors, Coordinators, and Evaluators attended from Head Start and Early Head Start (HS/EHS) programs across the state. Many of the conversations, both inside and outside of sessions, involved the outcome data generated by the CLASS, an observational assessment of the quality of teacher-child interactions. The Office of Head Start requires the CLASS as part of its monitoring review and professional development systems for center-based programs. The Ohio Head Start leaders seemed to embrace this classroom observational assessment as a guide for improving teacher practices and quality education for children. So I was listening intently for the readiness of the leadership to incorporate observational parenting assessment into their family services. After all, you may recall a previous KIPS blog entitled Measuring What Works for Children: CLASS™ for School & KIPS for Home in which guest blogger Sedra Spano from Teachstone said:
"The Reginald S. Lourie Center for Infants and Young Children Early Head Start Program provides comprehensive, year-round, child and family development services to low-income families with children, prenatal to three years old. During weekly home visits and parent-toddler activity groups, trained Early Head Start staff plan activities with families to foster the child's development, increase family literacy, promote healthy parent-child relationships, provide parenting support and education. . . . Our bilingual staff have the opportunity to establish close relationships with families and work in partnership with parents towards achieving goals for children and families. Home visiting has proven to be particularly effective with families seeking assistance in parenting their young children. . . . We provide direct assistance in helping the parent learn effective parenting strategies, reinforcing the parent as the child's first and most important nurturer, teacher and advocate, and learning to use the home as a learning environment.” (Excerpts from Lourie Center EHS program description.)
Guest Contribution by:
Alison Fennell, MA, LPC, ACS
Mental Health Manager/Clinical Supervisor
NORWESCAP Early Head Start/Head Start
In an earlier post, I described how NORWESCAP Early Head Start implemented an observational parenting assessment, which our Early Head Start site reviewers found a highlight of our program. With Early Head Start’s current spotlight on School Readiness, we are providing specific services to help parents prepare their children for school. We now incorporate parenting assessments into our reflective supervision with Home Visitors by scheduling quarterly meetings with each staff person specifically to reflect upon their assessments.
Guest Contribution by: Alison Fennell
North Western Community Action Program
Early Head Start
Learn more about www.norwescap.org
New Jersey’s North Western Community Action Program (NORWESCAP) offers Early Head Start sites in 4 counties (Hunterdon, Morris, Sussex, Warren), serving 193 families. The programs serve urban, suburban and rural, highly diverse populations. To optimally serve such diverse needs NORWESCAP delivers Early Head Start using two models: home-based and combined model services, combining center-based and home visiting. Given this diversity, our experience is relevant to most other Early Head Start programs.
Early Head Start: Relationships at the Core of School Readiness
Since Head Start's beginning in 1965, it has aimed to improve school readiness of children from low-income families and focused on family engagement and comprehensive services. Using an ecological theory of child development, Head Start’s guiding principles emphasize the development of the “whole child” and support of families and communities to produce optimal developmenti of children. In 1994, Early Head Start (EHS) was authorized to expand services to serve pregnant women and children from birth to 3 years. This deepened the interest in strengthening early parent-child relationships that begin before birth and contribute to children’s long-term development. (For more details, read Advisory Committee on Head Start Research and Evaluation).
What Does School Readiness Mean?
Head Start and Early Head Start (HS/EHS) aims to get children from low-income families ready for school. According to The Head Start Approach to School Readiness-Overview, this means, "children are ready for school, families are ready to support their children's learning, and schools are ready for children. . . . For parents and families, school readiness means they are engaged in the long-term, lifelong success of their child. Head Start recognizes that parents are their children's primary teachers and advocates.” As discussed in earlier posts, because parenting quality is the strongest predictor of child success, a strong focus on parenting makes sense. Following the recent report from the Advisory Committee on Head Start Research and Evaluation; the emphasis on parenting in HS/EHS programs is likely to increase.
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.