COVID-19 and the Head Start Community

Supportive Family-Staff Relationships

Whether delivering services virtually or in person, Head Start parents need support. Many families are spending more time together than normal. Use these resources to help parents who are stressed build deeper relationships with their children and support their learning. All published resources are listed under Recent Updates.

Stay Connected and Provide Emotional Support to Families

  • Navigating Conversations About COVID-19 Vaccine and Mask Requirements
    This resource suggests three simple but important strategies that Head Start program staff can use to navigate conversations with families about COVID-19-related vaccine and mask requirements.
  • Responding to Domestic Violence During COVID-19
    Explore how domestic violence, COVID-19, and systemic violence add additional stress and danger for communities of color and other groups who have been subject to discrimination.
  • Stay Connected to Decrease Family Stress in Difficult Times
    In this video, Dr. Bergeron is joined by Kiersten Beigel, family and community partnerships specialist at the Office of Head Start. They discuss how to partner with families during the COVID-19 pandemic. Offering compassion, connection, and care can decrease parental stress. Addressing immediate stressors related to food, rent support, or healthcare can also help. Dr. B and Kiersten suggest ways programs can find out what is going on with children at home.
  • Starting with Strengths in Challenging Times
    Take time to focus on your own professional development. Work through this simulated game. Find five strategies you can use to partner with families going through a challenging situation.
  • Preparing for Challenging Conversations with Families
    Discover ways to prepare for conversations that include challenging topics. These conversations can be used to engage families, strengthen relationships, and build trust. It may be difficult to begin discussing a challenging topic with a family. Explore this resource to learn how and why staff should prepare for challenging conversations.
  • Engaging with Families in Conversations About Sensitive Topics
    In this resource, find tips and approaches to help staff talk with families about sensitive topics.
  • Making the Move Together: Transitions During Uncertain Times
    Share this step-by-step guide with parents to help them prepare their child for the transition from home to a Head Start program after a public health crisis or emergency.
  • Leading Online Parent Meetings and Groups
    Explore this resource to learn ways to lead online parent meetings and groups as an alternative approach to leading them in person.


Parents as Their Child's First Teachers

  • The Importance of Schedules and Routines
    Learn the difference between schedules and routines and why they are important. Discover ways to partner with families on schedules and routines and reinstate them when programs reopen.
  • Safety Conversations with Families
    Find strategies to support ongoing home safety conversations with families using these checklists.
  • Validate all of the things parents are already doing every day to support their child's progress, no matter how small or insignificant they may seem.
  • Share simple tip sheets and resources (e.g., via phone screenshot, email, mail, reading off tips while they write them down). Examples include:
  • Offer a couple of suggestions per week. Keep it simple so families do not feel overwhelmed or guilty that they aren't doing more to support their child. For example:
    • Suggest families try using a "first-then" schedule:
      • "First we'll read a book, then you can play on the tablet."
      • "First get dressed, then we can watch a show together."
      • "First I need a break, then I can help you."
    • Individualize for each family based on their needs and the needs of their child.
  • Send links to helpful videos and online resources related to the child's Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) or Individualized Education Program (IEP) goals.
  • Suggest that caregivers reach out to trusted friends and family members via phone or online video calls to spend time with children. This can include working on IFSP or IEP goals that don't require physical prompting.
  • Mail simple instructional materials home and then follow up with a phone call to discuss how things are going and how families might use the materials (e.g., visual supports or schedule).
  • Coordinate a pick-up/drop-off location to swap materials with families while ensuring a safe distance.