In August 2011, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services introduced the Head Start Parent, Family and Community Engagement Framework. The Framework was developed for Head Start and Early Head Start programs, but its findings and recommendations are applicable to all early childhood programs.
They identify four impact areas that are critical to promote family engagement:
- Program Environment – families feel welcomed, valued and respected by program staff
- Family Partnership – families work with staff to identify and achieve their goals
- Teaching and Learning – families are engaged as equal partners in their children’s learning and development
- Community Partnership – communities support families’ interests and needs and encourage parent and family engagement in children’s learning
The Framework states that it is more likely that a program will achieve the desired outcomes if key foundations are in place to support family engagement. They list seven desired outcomes:
- Family well-being
- Positive parent-child relationships
- Families as lifelong educators
- Families as learners
- Family engagement in transitions
- Family connections to peers and community
- Families as advocates and learners.
Does that sound familiar to you? The Centre’s Logic Model, upon which all of our programs are built, has six goals worded a bit differently but supporting the same outcomes:
- Adults and parents will improve their literacy skills
- Babies, pre-schoolers and elementary school-age children will increase their language and early literacy skills
- Relationships between parents and children will be strengthened
- Parents will more actively participate in the development, growth and education of their children
- Parents, adults and partnering agencies will understand the roles of adult and family literacy in the development of healthy families and communities
- Community agencies are more effective in raising awareness and delivering services
The Family and Community Engagement Framework is a wonderful resource to support what is already being done in Alberta and reinforces the guiding principles that are used currently to inform program planning, delivery and evaluation.
Access the complete Framework by going to the Harvard Family Research Project website at www.hfrp.org/publications-resources/browse-our-publications/parent-family-and-community-engagement-framework-promoting-family-engagement-and-school-readiness-from-prenatal-to-age-8