Average Caseload of a Family Service Worker
What would be a good average caseload for a Family Service Worker to enable him/her to have a good rapport and communication with families?
Ideal caseload assignment is related to workload. Caseload is the time spent working directly with or on behalf of a family, and workload includes the consideration of additional duties required in the position. For example, workload considerations include travel, outreach activities, unplanned interruptions of normal work schedules, supervision, coordination. It also includes work with community groups, attendance at staff meetings, staff development at trainings and conferences, administrative functions, telephone contacts, case recording and data entry, reading of records and related reports, attending staffings, etc. Overall, a caseload ratio would depend upon the program’s organizational approach to delivering family services. Caseload sizes should ensure that families receive the services, help, support, and information that they need and request.
Developing Parent and Family Engagement Outcomes - Timelines
Is there an intent that programs should begin to develop PFE Outcomes soon? Are there timelines or deadlines to develop parent, family, and community engagement outcomes?
Individual programs determine the use of the PFCE Framework and related materials. There are no timelines, deadlines, or requirements for using these technical assistance materials, but they strong are foundational resources for the work of supporting both family and child outcomes. Programs may use these resources in a number of ways. Possibilities include strategic planning, self-assessment, continuous improvement, professional development, family-partnership processes, and parent-teacher visits.
Hiring Individuals Who Are Reflective of the Community Served
If we are to hire individuals who reflect the culture we serve, should we be hiring more parents and offering them training within our programs?
There are several programs that have strong volunteering, hiring, and training models that support career paths for parents in Head Start and Early Head Start. Wherever possible, hiring trained and qualified parents or other community members who reflect the culture or language of families served in the program is key to creating a culturally-responsive program environment.
How to Involve All Parents
My concern is with many parents who are not or cannot be as involved as the parents featured in the Parent, Family, and Community Engagement webcast. Often programs have a group of parents that are involved, but they are not able to build partnerships and communicate with all parents and families. How do we involve ALL parents? It is those families that cannot come to meetings or serve on the Policy Council that we must target. If we are going to have a lasting impact, an outcome must be that we engage all parents in their child’s education.
Parent leadership in program governance and parent involvement in program settings are important and meaningful to many parents. Yet, many parents are busy juggling work obligations, achieving education goals, or focusing on meeting the basic needs of their families. Therefore, they may not have the time to volunteer in traditional ways. However, every contact with a parent can be an opportunity to engage and collaborate with them to achieve the outcomes outlined in the PFCE Framework – whether it is family well-being; parent-child relationships; families as lifelong educators; families as learners; family engagement in transitions; family connections to peers and the community; or families as advocates and leaders. Seek to engage parents during pick-up and drop-off times, orientations, home visits, parent meetings, telephone conversations, family partnership meetings, home-learning activities, newsletters, socializations, and during special events. Brainstorm with your program staff and assess your current engagement strategies. You may ask:
- What are we doing with all of the opportunities we have with families?
- How do parents perceive the program environment?
- Do parents feel welcomed and supported?
- Do parents feel a sense of equality with staff?
- How comfortable is staff in building relationships with families, cross-cultural relationships, and cross-gender relationships?
Consider relationship building with families at all points of program implementation and program planning to ensure that interactions with families relate to their program goals in meaningful ways.
Measuring Parent-Child Relationships
How are you going to measure parent-child relationships…through self report?
Head Start programs are already measuring parent-child relationships. Teachers and home visitors, for example, observe interactions between parents and children each day. However, the objective of the National Center on Parent, Family, and Community Engagement is to make the parent-child relationship assessment more informed and intentional. Currently, there are several researchers working on measures, some observational, some self-report by providers, some self-report by parents. All of these are potentially useful for programs in the context of data-driven decision-making. Also, in the next several years, the NCPFCE will develop a professional development unit that will help program staff develop skills for building positive relationships. This framework for building relationships will also serve as a guide for assessing relationship-building between children and their caregivers.
Q. Any ideas on how to motivate families to be more engaged when they are currently living in high crisis situations?
Response: There are different forms of engagement, and it is hard to answer this question without knowing what kind of engagement is being referenced (program engagement, child engagement, or family engagement). In many circumstances, supporting families to become more stable when facing high crisis situations is the first step towards exploring other types of engagement around children’s learning. Research tells us that families experiencing multiple adversities often have little energy left to support their children’s learning. Also, there is a strong relationship between cumulative risks like depression, homelessness, family violence, poverty, and diminished child outcomes. This is one of the reasons that a family engagement strategy that supports family well-being is critical to improving both family and child outcomes. In the comprehensive, integrated, and systemic PFCE Framework, supporting family well-being is not just the responsibility of the family service worker, but of the entire program and organization. Programs should develop strategies to support families in crisis situations.
The Family Connections Project is a system-wide, preventive mental health model developed for and in Head Start and Early Head Start programs. It offers sustainable strategies for programs to tackle the depression and adversity that many Head Start and Early Head Start families may face. Programs begin by assessing their readiness to consider mental health issues in a comprehensive way. The Family Connections Readiness Guide walks programs through an individualized assessment and supports the development of a yearly action plan. Materials also contain 12 trainings, short papers for staff and parents, and a guide to lessons learned about the implementation of mental health and wellness consultation.
You may also explore the materials from the Family Connections Project of Children's Hospital Boston that are available on the ECLKC.
Outcomes-Based, Data-Driven Approach
How will Head Start implement an outcomes-based, data-driven approach for Parent, Family, and Community Engagement?
An outcomes-based, data-driven approach includes efforts to identify indicators and markers of progress in parent, family, and community engagement at the program level, and to identify existing strategies, development, and compilations of assessments at the family-outcome level. Programs may use the PFCE Framework to identify specific program foundations, program impact areas, and family engagement outcomes.
The program foundations identified in the PFCE Framework are Program Leadership; Continuous Program Improvement; and Professional Development. The program impact areas identified in the PFCE Framework are Program Environments; Family Partnerships; Teaching and Learning; and Community Partnerships. In a comprehensive, systemic, and integrated model, all of these components must be integrated to enhance positive family outcomes. Programs are encouraged to use the resource Bringing the Parent, Family, and Community Engagement Framework to Your Program: Beginning A Self-Assessment
to help them develop a system of assessment in these areas. This guide may help you assess your program, set strategic goals, and track your progress.
On the family-outcome level, there are a number of ways to explore and select ways of connecting program goals and activities to the family’s goals and progress. One outcomes-based, data-driven approach would be to use family assessments – beginning with the orientation packet and followed by the family partnership goal-setting process – to establish where parents are and where they want to go. Programs are encouraged to use the seven Family Engagement Outcomes listed in the PFCE Framework, your family assessment process, and parents’ interests, needs, and concerns to guide your conversations with families. Use these three engagement components for developing an action plan to help each family achieve their goals. Establish review points with families and use a survey or conversations to assess what has changed for parents. Together, you can use this information to establish a course of action or to set new goals. Other points of data to track program and family progress might come from surveys or focus-group discussions conducted after parent meetings, classes, and support groups. These "data points" give parents an opportunity to share in conversations and to give feedback (for example, on surveys, in interviews, or in focus groups) about what they learned, what has changed for them, or what they are still interested in knowing, achieving and/or securing for themselves or their child. Several parent questionnaires/surveys can help program staff organize their thinking around family outcomes. One example is the Family Map
, a family assessment tool that is based in research and tailored to be used at entry to a home or center-based program, during partnership agreement discussions, and during additional family sessions. This structured interview assesses important aspects of the family and home environment associated with well-being in children ages birth to six years.
The PFCE Framework's
sections on Family Outcomes and Parent Perspectives offer some examples of progress that might guide your conversations with families at points of review. For example, if a family wanted to learn more about her child's social and emotional development, you might establish a plan to support that with the child’s teacher or home visitor. Once the work is complete, refer to the section related to Positive Parent-Child Relationships in the Parent Perspectives section. This section offers some examples of family progress toward family goals. For example, did the parent(s) gain knowledge about their child's social and emotional development in a way that was satisfactory to them? Have you had a chance to observe parent-child interactions or to hear parents’ explanations and insights that demonstrate the kinds of changes you were working toward? These are outcomes-based and data-driven efforts at the family level.
In the coming year, the National Center on Parent, Family, and Community Engagement will offer additional resources, such as guidelines for programs, to help them partner with families to assess family progress, and a compendium of measures that programs might select from to better measure and illustrate family progress in each of the seven different family outcome areas.
Q. Is there a specific award that can be created to present to Head Start/Early Head Start families who volunteer to support Parent, Family, and Community Engagement?
Response: Many programs create their own awards for appreciating families and recognizing family accomplishments. The National Center on Parent, Family, and Community Engagement has also created an awards certificate [PDF, 56KB] that is available for programs to use. It is on the National Center's page.
PFCE Framework and Family Partnership Goals
The PFCE Framework identifies seven Family Outcomes. How many goals are we going to be expected to achieve outside of family partnership goals? How is OHS going to help us with this? We need more clarification.
The purpose of developing the PFCE Framework and future related materials is to support programs in improving the quality of their work with families. Families set the pace of progress based on their needs, and their aspirations.
These seven Outcomes encompass everything that programs do with families across systems, services, and organizational staffing structures. The seven Outcomes are not meant to translate into a family partnership agreement without consideration for all of the other opportunities staff have to connect with families across the program. For family partnership agreements, the PFCE Framework may be used to inform family assessments and to inform discussions with families around their goals and their progress. Since family partnership agreements are about families’ interests and needs, families drive the ongoing work outlined in these partnership agreements.
PFCE Framework and Head Start Program Performance Standards
How will this new Parent, Family, and Community Engagement Framework be reflected in the next set of Head Start Program Performance Standards that are being developed?
The PFCE Framework is a technical assistance implementation tool that supports the tenets of the Head Start Program Performance Standards. The goals and strategies outlined in the PFCE Framework include many of the things that programs have been working toward over current and past sets of Performance Standards. In the same way, these goals and strategies will be related to future sets of Performance Standards, as well. The technical assistance that is offered through the National Center on Parent, Family, and Community Engagement will be based on the PFCE Framework. The PFCE Framework components (program foundations and program impact areas) are organized in alignment with the current Head Start Program Performance Standards (see pages 41-46 of Bringing the Parent, Family, and Community Engagement Framework to Your Program: Beginning A Self-Assessment
Promoting Parent/Family Engagement in Local School Systems
Resources to Assess Parenting Strengths and Needs
What tools and resources do you recommend to Head Start programs to assess individual parenting strengths and needs?
Program staff should tailor the assessment tools and resources to meet the needs of that program. As a result, there is no one set of measures for assessing individual parenting. There are a number of assessments being developed and these will be reviewed by the NCPFCE so that the strengths and limitations of each are available for programs to review and consider. In addition, many programs are now using measures that they find effective. The NCPFCE would like feedback from programs about what they are using and what they find effective when assessing the needs and strengths of parents and families.
Resources to Build Parenting Skills
Q. What tools and resources do you recommend supporting work with parents to build nurturing parenting skills at home to promote their children’s development?
Response: There are a number of evidence-based and evidence-informed resources for working with parents. Here are some examples:
- 21st Century Exploring Parenting was developed in 2002 by the Office of Head Start. This resource can be ordered through the Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center at 1-866-763-6481. The goals of 21st Century Exploring Parenting are to get to know yourself better; to get to know your child better; and to use the information to individualize child-rearing style and decisions. There are 10 sessions. The session titles include Getting Involved in Your Child’s World; Communicating with Your Child; and Dealing with Feelings and Nurturing Development.
- The Nurturing Parent series features activities that foster positive parenting skills and self-nurturing, home practice exercises, family nurturing time, and activities that promote positive brain development in children birth to eighteen years. Lessons can be delivered in a home-based setting, group-based setting, or combination of home and group settings. Parents and children attend separate groups that meet concurrently, and each session is designed to build self-awareness, positive self-esteem and levels of empathy. The adult groups teach alternatives to hitting and yelling and discusses strategies to enhance family communication and awareness of needs. The activities also present ways to promote healthy physical and emotional development of children.
- Make Parenting a Pleasure is another series of parenting workshops that contains a section on stress and self-care. It offers a group-based, positive parenting curriculum for parent educators serving highly stressed parents of children ages zero to eight years.
- The Brazelton Touchpoints Approach is a practical and evidence-based approach for enhancing the competency of parents and building strong family-child relationships from before birth and through the earliest years. This professional development sequence for staff offers a set of developmentally-grounded strategies and skills for building ongoing, goal-directed relationships with parents. It also supports positive organizational reflection and supervisory practices. This professional development package is accompanied by a series of reflective practice and supervision coaching sessions to ensure that the skills learned in this area is put into practice.
Resources to Support Families with Children Ages Five to Eight
Are there resources or tools available to support families with children ages five to eight?
Response: The new Partnerships for Sustained Learning: A Guide to Creating Head Start-School Partnerships has been developed to assist Head Start programs in developing stronger links with elementary schools. The Guide has identified creating better continuity in the delivery of support services to children and families as one of the key areas to address. The Guide provides early learning programs and elementary schools with an overview of what services and supports children and families need to reduce academic and nonacademic barriers to learning. It also provides specific examples of how programs and schools can work together to understand the needs of families and identify the appropriate resources and supports.
In addition, there are several websites that provide helpful materials to help programs engage parents and families of children transitioning to kindergarten and families of children progressing through elementary school. As partners of the National Center on Parent, Family, and Community Engagement, the Harvard Family Research Project and the National PTA feature information on their websites about parent engagement for children ages five to eight years. Some of the important topics on these websites include transitions to kindergarten, supporting parent engagement, and the importance of parent and family engagement in building positive school outcomes for children in elementary school.
Sharing PFCE Information with Parents, Staff, and Community Partners
How can we best share this information with parents, staff, and community partners?
Programs should determine how to use the PFCE Framework and supporting materials. Consider holding discussion forums and brainstorming sessions in manager meetings, parent meetings, staff meetings, staff retreats, strategic planning meetings, Policy Council meetings, social service advisory groups, Health Services Advisory Committee (HSAC) meetings, etc. Once parents and staff have determined how your program might like to use the PFCE Framework and the related resources, share it with the community in relevant ways. Use it at orientations with local education agency administrators and teachers to let them know what parent, family and community engagement in Head Start is all about. Share it at early learning council meetings to inform community goals and strategies. Share it with community partners with common missions who might find these materials helpful in their own work. Incorporating these activities into your regular program self-assessment and community assessment process is a great way of assuring that parent, family, and community engagement programming is an integrated and comprehensive part of every Head Start and Early Head Start program.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About the Head Start Parent, Family, and Community Engagement Framework. HHS/ACF/OHS. English. 2011.