Improving Systems, Practices and Outcomes

Family Engagement Resources

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1. OPRE Releases Head Start Reports from FACES 2014 Study

Source: Office of Planning, Research & Evaluation (OPRE)

OPRE recently released the following series of Head Start reports (December 2017) based on data from the 2014 cohort of the Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey (FACES 2014). FACES 2014 is a descriptive study of nationally representative data gathered from Head Start programs, classrooms, children, and families related to program performance, including areas of improvement, quality, and child and family outcomes.

2. Taking on the Challenge: Building a Strong Foundation for Early Learning

Source: Early Learning Challenge Technical Assistance (ELCTA)

ELCTA released Taking on the Challenge: Building a Strong Foundation for Early Learning (December 2017), a summary of the Early Learning Challenge (ELC) Program grantees' progress since it began in 2012. The major focus areas covered are coordinated state systems, Quality Rating and Improvement Systems, supporting the early childhood workforce, enhancing data systems, family engagement, strengthening local and community initiatives, and measuring progress. An executive summary and state profiles are included.

3. Indispensable Policies & Practices for High-Quality Pre-K

Source: New America

This September 2017 report from New America examines recent research and studies regarding preschool programs and quality standards, and summarizes those policies and practices essential for sustaining high-quality pre-K education. There are six core themes covered in the report: Curriculum, Instruction, & Assessment, Family Engagement, Funding, P-3 Alignment, Program Improvement and Workforce Support.

4. State-Led Evaluations of Family Engagement: The MIECHV Program

Source: Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE)

This new brief from OPRE (August 2017) identifies the types of questions states and territories receiving funding from MIECHV have about family engagement, and provides examples of state-led evaluations. The evaluations from Alabama, Georgia, Oregon, Arkansas, California, Alaska, Vermont, Connecticut, and West Virginia focused on 3 main topics:

  • Family and community characteristics associated with engagement
  • Best practices and strategies to promote engagement
  • Father engagement

The results may influence areas of training, professional development, and curricula that could be improved to more effectively engage families.

5. Effective Family Engagement-Boosting School Readiness

Source: U.S. Department of Education and Health and Human Services

The Office of Head Start provides a series of simulations for effectively engaging families from the start. The series explores the practice of everyday strategies to develop Positive Goal-Oriented Relationships with a family. These relationships are key to our work with children and families, including the journey toward school readiness.

  • Simulation 1 allows you to practice building bonds with families, beginning with an intake visit.
  • Simulation 2 explores the process of developing and implementing goals with families.
  • Simulation 3 explores using strengths-based attitudes to partner with families during challenging times.
  • Simulation 4 shows how to talk to families about developmental concerns.

6. Aligning and Integrating Family Engagement in Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports

Source: Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports Center - Retrieved April 27, 2017

A new, free e-book, Aligning and Integrating Family Engagement in Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports: Concepts and Strategies for Families and Schools in Key Contexts (2017), provides guidance for enhancing family engagement in schools from pre-Kindergarten through high school. The book includes information on the foundations of family engagement (FE), a review of FE in the context of Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) and Multitiered Systems of Support (MTSS), and strategies for applying ideas in local sites and across systems. It addresses the unique needs of children at risk and emphasizes the critical issue of cultural competence. The voices of family members providing ideas and guidance are included in each chapter.

7. Engaging Parents, Developing Leaders: A Self-Assessment and Planning Tool

Source: Annie E. Casey Foundation - August 9, 2016

A new tool, Engaging Parents, Developing Leaders: A Self-Assessment and Planning Tool for Nonprofits and Schools (August 2016), aims to help nonprofit organizations evaluate their family engagement and capacity-building activities and determine next steps toward building deeper partnerships with parents and caregivers.

8. Joint Letter Supporting Family Engagement in Early Learning

Source: U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services - August 1, 2016

Education Secretary John B. King and Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell have released a Joint Letter (August 2016) supporting the Departments' recent Policy Statement on Family Engagement (May 2016). The Departments aim to support and encourage states, districts, schools, and public and private early childhood programs, including child care and Head Start, to take action to develop and implement effective family engagement policies and practices.

This letter and related resources can be found at http://www2.ed.gov/about/inits/ed/earlylearning/index.html.

9. Just Released! ED-HHS Policy Statement on Family Engagement

Source: U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services - May 5, 2016

The U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services have released the final version of their joint policy statement on Family Engagement: From the Early Years to the Early Grades (May 2016). It is the Departments' position that strong family engagement is central to promoting children's healthy development, school readiness, and academic achievement in elementary school and beyond. When families and the programs where children learn work together in meaningful ways, children have more positive attitudes toward school, stay in school longer, have better attendance, and experience more school success. The joint policy statement:

  • Reviews the research base, legal requirements, and best practices that support effective family engagement in children's learning, development, and wellness;
  • Identifies core principles of effective family engagement practices from HHS' and ED's family engagement frameworks to drive successful policy and program development, implementation, and evaluation;
  • Provides recommendations to states, state educational agencies (SEAs), lead agencies for early intervention services and child care, local educational agencies (LEAs), schools, and community-based early childhood systems and programs to implement effective family engagement; and
  • Highlights resources to build programmatic and family capacity to be effective partners.

See the ECTA Center's Family Engagement webpage for additional resources.

10. State Approaches to Family Engagement in Pre-K Programs

Source: The Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO) - March 18, 2016

A new CEELO policy brief, State Approaches to Family Engagement in Pre-K Programs (March 2016), discusses the importance of family engagement, looks at approaches states have taken in developing program guidance, and provides strategies to support effective implementation. It draws on work CEELO did with two states as they developed guidance on family engagement.

11. Survey for Families with Children under 3 Years Old

Source: ZERO TO THREE Policy Center - February 18, 2016

The ZERO TO THREE Policy Center has published a new brief "Survey for Families with Children under 3 Years Old" to help policy leaders better understand families' experiences accessing health, early learning, and family support services. It can be used in developing policies and programs that meet families' needs and in crafting effective family engagement strategies. It was developed as a companion to the recently released Infants and Toddlers in the Policy Picture: A Self-Assessment Toolkit for States and is available under "Additional Resources" on that page as either a fillable PDF or SurveyMonkey template. ZERO TO THREE recommends that policy leaders work with service providers or other partners to disseminate the survey to families with young children.

12. Family Engagement Inventory

Source: Child Welfare Information Gateway - Retrieved February 20, 2015

The Child Welfare Information Gateway recently launched the Family Engagement Inventory (FEI), a web-based tool designed to assist professionals in child welfare, juvenile justice, behavioral health, early childhood education, and education understand how family engagement is defined and implemented across these fields of practice. It is meant to promote understanding of the commonalities and differences in family engagement across the disciplines in order to support cross-system collaboration among multiple systems often working with the same children and families.

13. Building Partnerships: Guide to Relationships with Families

Source: Office of Head Start - September 25, 2014

The Office of Head Start's National Center on Parent, Family, and Community Engagement (NCPFCE) recently published a new resource, Building Partnerships: Guide to Relationships with Families, which explores the role that positive goal-oriented relationships play in effective parent, family, and community engagement. It is intended for the Head Start and Early Head Start community and professionals in the early childhood field. It offers definitions, tools, and guides for reflective practice and supervision. See other recently published resources on NCPFCE's Family Engagement and School Readiness Web page.

14. New Video Illustrating Family Engagement

Source: Results Matter - August 18, 2014

Results Matter, a program of the Colorado Department of Education, recently posted the following new video in the Results Matter Video Library:

  • The Sunshine Bus Preschool on Wheels Program - Engaging Children and Families (Runtime: 9:23) - This video is a sequel to "Gus The Bus - Preschool on Wheels," illustrating how a host of community partners produced a second Preschool on Wheels to serve families who live in isolated areas. The focus of this story is on family engagement, described by a number of families who participate in the program.

This video can be accessed from the Practices Here and There section of the library. As with all Results Matter videos, it can be viewed online and downloaded at no cost for use in educational and professional development activities.

15. New Videos About Friendship, Inclusion and Family Engagement

Source: Results Matter - June 10, 2014

Results Matter, a program of the Colorado Department of Education, recently posted the following two new videos in the Results Matter Video Library.

  • Friendship, Inclusion, and Learning (Runtime: 7:25) This story is about a beautiful friendship that blossomed between two young girls in a preschool classroom. The children's parents and teacher describe how the friendship helped both girls progress in learning important social and academic skills.
  • Photographer of the Day-Engaging Children and their Families (Runtime: 7:46), tells the story of how a preschool teacher created a "photographer of the day" classroom job for the children. The child's photos are shared the following day with the other children who reflect on the images and with families who get to see their children's experiences during the school day. The teacher and a parent describe the benefits of this activity for the children, their families, and the teacher.

Both can be accessed from the Practices Here and There section of the library. As with all Results Matter videos, they can be viewed online and downloaded at no cost for use in educational and professional development activities.

16. Overview and Alignment of Family Engagement Frameworks

Source: Center for the Study of Social Policy - May 13, 2014

The Center for the Study of Social Policy recently published a paper, How Strengthening Families Aligns With the Head Start Parent, Family and Community Engagement Framework (2014). The paper provides an overview of the Strengthening Families Approach to engaging families and the Head Start (HS) Parent, Family and Community Engagement (PFCE) Framework, as well as information about similarities and differences between the two approaches. It is meant to inform leaders in state agencies and early childhood programs about strategies to effectively engage parents as partners to support young children's learning and development and improve outcomes.

17. Videos From Parents - Enhancing Family Engagement

Source: Results Matter, Colorado Department of Education - May 12, 2014

Results Matter, a program of the Colorado Department of Education, recently posted a new video about strengthening family engagement in the Results Matter Video Library.

  • Videos From Parents - Enhancing Family Engagement (Runtime: 9:58) - This video illustrates a few ways that a preschool teacher uses video to promote family engagement. The teacher invites families who can't schedule time to be in the classroom to take and share video clips of their occupational and community lives. The children share these videos with their classmates and the teacher integrates the clips in thematic units. The teacher also shares videos of the children with their parents.

All Results Matter videos can be viewed online and downloaded at no cost for use in educational and professional development activities. This clip is posted at the top of the Practices Here and There section of the library.

18. New Video about Strengthening Family Engagement and Family-School Relationships

Source: Results Matter, Colorado Department of Education - April 24, 2014

Results Matter, a program of the Colorado Department of Education, recently posted a new video about strengthening family engagement and family-school relationships in the Results Matter Video Library.

  • Using Text Messaging To Strengthen Family-School Relationships (Runtime 8:12) - This video illustrates how a preschool teacher uses text messaging to help families clearly and quickly understand what their children are learning in the classroom, how they are learning, and ways that they can support their children to learn at home. The teacher, a parent, and the school principal share their perspectives on the use of cell phones and text messaging to build relationships.

All Results Matter videos can be viewed online and downloaded at no cost for use in educational and professional development activities. This clip is posted at the top of the Practices Here and There section of the library.

19. New Video Series in the Results Matter Video Library

Source: Results Matter, Colorado Department of Education - April 14, 2014

Results Matter, a program of the Colorado Department of Education, recently posted the following new two-part video series in the Results Matter Video Library.

As with all Results Matter videos, these clips can be viewed online and may be downloaded at no cost for use in educational and professional development activities. They are posted at the top of the page in both the Practices Here and There and the Using Technology for Authentic Assessment sections of the library. There are currently more than 130 videos in the Results Matter Video Library.

20. New Resources from the National Center on Parent, Family, and Community Engagement

Source: Office of Head Start - April 7, 2014

The Office of Head Start's National Center on Parent, Family, and Community Engagement (NCPFCE) has published the following new resources to support programs working to implement Head Start's Parent, Family, and Community Engagement (PFCE) Framework. The resources provide summaries of selected research, proven interventions, promising practices, and suggested strategies.

  • Research to Practice Series on Parent, Family, and Community Engagement - This series is intended to help programs foster strong relationships and support positive outcomes for children, families, and staff. It currently includes briefs on: Family Engagement and School Readiness, Positive Parent-Child Relationships, Families as Lifelong Educators, Family Engagement in Transitions: Transition to Kindergarten, Family Connections to Peers and Community, and Families as Advocates and Leaders.
  • Measuring What Matters: Using Data to Support Family Progress - This resource is the first in a new series that will provide information on how programs can use data to engage families and support each family's progress toward the family outcomes in Head Start's PFCE Framework.

21. New Video Illustrates Collaboration Between Preschool and Early Childhood Special Education

Source: Results Matter, Colorado Department of Education - January 17, 2014

Results Matter, a program of the Colorado Department of Education, recently posted the following new video in the Results Matter Video Library. It is posted in the Practices Here and There section of the library. As with all Results Matters videos, it can be viewed online or downloaded at no cost for use in educational and professional development activities.

  • Collaborating to Support Aiden (Runtime: 12:14) illustrates how a homebound interventionist and a preschool teacher collaborated to enable a young child to attend a typical preschool classroom through video conferencing. The story illustrates collaboration between general and special education, teaming, the importance of reflection, family engagement, friendships, uses of technology, modifying instructional practices to include all children, administrative support, and IEP meetings.

22. National Scan of State Policies Shows Increasing Emphasis on Early Education in 2013

Source: Education Commission of the States - December 2, 2013

The Education Commission of the States (ECS) has published a new report, 2013 Legislative Session - P-3 Policies (November 2013), by Emily Workman, which looks at the work states across the country are doing to strengthen their early childhood systems. Using the results of a national scan of enacted policies from the 2013 legislative sessions, the report finds that state policymakers are increasingly recognizing the benefits of early learning and developmental services for young children. It highlights ways in which they are strengthening their early childhood systems in areas such as governance, funding, program access, family engagement, teacher preparation/certification, assessment, Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS), Home Visiting and more.

23. The Importance of Family Engagement in Infant and Toddler Programs

Source: Center for Law and Social Policy - November 20, 2013

The Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) recently released a new paper, Promote Family Engagement (2013), which discusses the importance of family engagement in child care and early education programs serving infants and toddlers. The paper provides research documenting the importance of strengthening family engagement, policy recommendations states can consider to enhance family engagement strategies, and other resources. It was published as part of CLASP'S Charting Progress for Babies in Child Care project, an effort to link research to policy ideas to help states make the best decisions for infants and toddlers in child care.

24. The Science of Children Birth to Age 8 - New Committee Announced

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services - November 8, 2013

The Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Education, and partners in the philanthropic community are funding a new study, The Science of Children Birth to Age 8: Deepening and Broadening the Foundation for Success. The study will be executed via The National Academies' Institute of Medicine and will result in a consensus report on how the science of children's health, learning, and development from birth to age 8 can inform how we prepare a workforce to seamlessly support children's development and education, including standards and expectations, instructional practices, preparation and professional development, and family engagement across diverse contexts (e.g., rural/urban) and populations (e.g., immigrant children, dual language learners, children at risk for developmental delays and disabilities). Read the project description here. Learn more about appointed committee members and sponsoring partners on the project website.

25. Raising Young Children in a New Country: Supporting Early Learning and Healthy Development

Source: Bridging Refugee Youth and Children's Services & National Center on Cultural and Linguistic Responsiveness - September 5, 2013

Bridging Refugee Youth and Children's Services (BRYCS) and the Office of Head Start's National Center on Cultural and Linguistic Responsiveness (NCCLR) recently collaborated to publish a new illustrated handbook for immigrant families raising children between the ages of 0 and 5. Raising Young Children in a New Country: Supporting Early Learning and Healthy Development is designed to provide families with basic information about early childhood development, age appropriate discipline strategies, and the availability of services, support, and family engagement opportunities. It highlights the following six themes: family well-being; safety and protection; guidance and discipline; healthy brain development; early learning and school readiness; and connecting to early care and education. The handbook is also available in Arabic and will soon be available in Spanish.

26. Video - Using The Project Approach In a Spanish-Speaking Preschool Classroom

Source: Results Matter - June 26, 2013

Results Matter, a program of the Colorado Department of Education, has posted the following new video in the Results Matter Video Library. It is posted in the "Practices Here and There" section of the library.

Using The Project Approach In a Spanish-Speaking Preschool Classroom (Runtime: 10:09) - This video illustrates a variety of themes and practices as the teacher discusses Spanish-speaking classrooms, The Project Approach, family engagement, community engagement and support, and having high expectations for all children.

This video can be viewed online and downloaded at no cost for use in educational and professional development activities.

27. Using Technology to Enhance Instruction and Family Engagement

Source: Results Matter - April 22, 2013

Results Matter, a program of the Colorado Department of Education, recently released a new video, Using Technology to Enhance Instruction and Family Engagement (Runtime: 9:44), which illustrates how a preschool teacher uses a variety of technologies in her classroom, including computers, iPads, iPods, a Promethean Board, and a media sharing site, to enhance instruction for children and engage their families. It is posted at the top of the page in three sections of the Results Matter Video Library, including: Practices Here and There, Using Technology for Authentic Assessment and iPads in Early Childhood. As with all Results Matter videos, it can be viewed online or downloaded at no cost for use in educational and professional development activities.

28. Four New Briefs on Working with Latino and ELL Preschoolers

Source: National Council of La Raza - August 23, 2012

On August 23, 2012 the National Council of La Raza released four new briefs highlighting early childhood education programs that exemplify best practices in serving young Latino and English language learner (ELL) children and their families. Each brief profiles one program and provides policy recommendations to help bring the program to scale. The briefs include:

29. Teaching Cases on Family Engagement: Early Learning (Ages 0-8)

Source: Harvard Family Research Project - March 01, 2012

The Harvard Family Research Project has released a compilation of teaching cases in family engagement and early childhood education, which can be used as a tool in preparing early childhood educators to engage effectively with families. Teaching Cases on Family Engagement: Early Learning (Ages 0-8) (2012) provides examples of real-world situations and considers the perspectives of various stakeholders, including program staff, parents, children, and community members.

30. Family Engagement in Early Education: A Resource Guide for Early Learning Challenge Grant Recipients

Source: Harvard Family Research Project - January 18, 2012

The Harvard Family Research Project recently published resource guide on engaging and supporting families with young children to help support states that recently received Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge (RTTT-ELC) grants, as well as other states, districts, and local programs interested in expanding their family engagement work. Family Engagement in Early Education: A Resource Guide for Early Learning Challenge Grant Recipients (2012) aligns with the three family engagement areas highlighted in the RTTT-ELC criteria and includes two additional areas that are important to programs' family engagement efforts.

31. Supporting Child Development through Family-Provider Relationships

Source: Child Trends - Retrieved December 2, 2011

Child Trends recently announced the release of the following briefs on supporting child development through family-provider relationships. The briefs were funded through a contract with the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation (OPRE), within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

32. Breaking New Ground: Data Systems Transform Family Engagement in Education

Source: Harvard Family Research Project - Retrieved March 3, 2011

The Harvard Family Research Project and the National PTA have published a policy brief, Breaking New Ground: Data Systems Transform Family Engagement in Education (2011) highlighting how data can be used to engage families and improve parent-teacher communication. The brief describes three key elements of a data system (access, understanding, and action) and cites six case studies demonstrating how early childhood programs and school districts are using data systems to improve family engagement. It is available online at http://www.hfrp.org/content/download/3829/104990/file/Issue%20Brief-Data_Systems_022211.pdf

33. New Report and Radio Segment on Preparation for Teachers in Pre-K through 3rd Grade

Source: New America Foundation, Early Education Initiative - March 01, 2011

The New America Foundation's Early Education Initiative has released a report, Getting in Sync: Revamping Licensure and Preparation for Teachers in Pre-K, Kindergarten and the Early Grades (2011), by Laura Bornfreund. The report discusses the importance of ensuring that pre-K through 3rd grade teachers learn about the science of early-childhood development (including social-emotional development) and family engagement, as well as how to provide effective instruction in early science, early literacy and early mathematics. The report is available at http://www.newamerica.net/publications/policy/getting_in_sync

A recent BAM Radio segment also discusses the importance of moving toward child development requirements for teachers. It features Dr. James G. Cibulka, President of the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), Dr. James Comer, the Maurice Falk Professor of Child Psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine's Child Study Center, and Laura Bornfreund, a Policy Analyst for New America's Early Education Initiative. It can be accessed at http://www.jackstreet.com/jackstreet/WMBK.RTChildDevelopment.cfm

34. Engaging Families in Early Childhood Programs

Source: Pre-K Now - Jul 06, 2010

Involving parents and other caregivers in early childhood programs can enhance children's learning, promote effective parenting and build lasting partnerships between families and the education system. A new report from Pre-K Now identifies policies that can enhance family engagement in state pre-k programs and highlights examples from states that are doing a good with this. Engaged Families, Effective Pre-K: State Policies that Bolster Student Success (2010) by Deborah Roderick Stark can be accessed online at http://www.pewtrusts.org/our_work_report_detail.aspx?id=59866

35. Listening and Learning about Early Learning Tour

Source: U.S. Department of Education - April 21, 2010

The U.S. Departments of Education (ED) and Health and Human Services (HHS) are holding a series of meetings entitled Listening and Learning about Early Learning to gather input on the following topics: Understanding Preschool-Grade 3 Structures, Workforce and Professional Development, Family Engagement, and Standards and Assessments. The meetings are being held in Washington, D.C., Denver, CO, Orlando, FL, and Chicago, IL. To learn more, see the Federal Register Notice (April 21, 2010) at http://www2.ed.gov/legislation/FedRegister/other/2010-2/042110c.html

Summaries of the meeting discussions are being posted online at http://www.ed.gov/blog/topic/early-learning/. Presentations and testimonies from some of the meetings will be available online at a later date and eNotes will include a link to those when it is available.

  • IDEAs that Work: Office of Special Education Programs, U.S. Department of Education

The ECTA Center is a program of the FPG Child Development Institute of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, funded through cooperative agreement number H326P170001 from the Office of Special Education Programs, U.S. Department of Education. Opinions expressed herein do not necessarily represent the Department of Education's position or policy.

Project Officer: Julia Martin Eile     © 2012-2018 ECTA Center

  • UNC Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute