Overview of the PFCE Assessment Guide
This easy-to-use tool is divided into seven areas – each a key element for bringing the PFCE Framework to your program. Three are the Program Foundations or Foundations for Success from the PFCE Framework: Program Leadership, Professional Development, and Continuous Program Improvement. These elements influence every area of the program. The four remaining elements are the Program Impact Areas that must be included for successful PFCE. Each
of these seven key elements is briefly defined:
Foundations for Success
- Program Leadership: The director,the governing board, policy council, parent committees and management teams determine the ways that Head Start and Early Head Start programs engage parents, families, and the community.
- Professional Development: PFCE training is important for all staff. Professional development focuses on how staff members can contribute to program-wide PFCE efforts in their roles and how these roles fit together.
- Continuous Improvement: Leadership and staff are committed to continuously improving systems and activities to engage and support parents, families, and the community.
Program Impact Areas
- Program Environment: Families feel welcomed, valued, and respected by program staff and experience themselves as essential partners in understanding and meeting the needs of children.
- Teaching and Learning: Families are engaged as equal partners in their
children’s learning and development.
- Family Partnerships: Families work with staff to identify and achieve their goals and aspirations. To make a positive impact in the area of family partnerships, staff and families build ongoing, respectful and goal-oriented relationships.
- Community Partnerships: Communities support families’ interests and needs and foster parent and family engagement in children’s learning. Programs and families can also strengthen communities.
The elements have been listed separately to make each easier to see and discuss. We do the same thing and for the same reasons when we talk about domains of a child’s development separately. But just as the areas of development influence one another, these key PFCE elements are interrelated. Together they contribute to meeting family engagement outcomes. We call these connections among the elements pathways of action toward outcomes.
For example, program leadership can promote professional development strategies (
such as cross-program training and team building) that build a program environment that respects the strengths and cultural backgrounds of families. Within this program environment, teaching and learning processes include teacher invitations for family visits to observe classrooms and share information about children’s talents, interests, and needs. Through child assessments and surveys of teachers and parents, the program director and staff collect data for continuous program improvement so that they can better support families as lifelong educators.
Looking for and thinking about “connections” will help assure your PFCE practices are program-wide and lead to the well-being of children and their families. This will also lead you to use your time and resources wisely by building on and linking PFCE successes rather than initiating a series of isolated, unrelated efforts.
In the Digital Markers of Progress tool, we use “assessment” to describe efforts to gather and analyze information
to examine your program’s current PFCE practices. This process refers to program-level efforts, rather than a description of an individual child or family. It does not refer to the annual required program Self-Assessment process.
For each of the sections of the PFCE Assessment Guide that address the seven elements listed above, you will also find a definition for the indicators in each element.
Definitions of each element’s indicators:
Each of the seven Program Foundation and Impact Area elements can be easier to see when you consider indicators that describe what these elements might look like in actual programs. These indicators are based on the Head Start Parent, Family, and Community Engagement Framework. (See page 6.)
An Assessment Grid that includes the:
- Seven elements and their indicators: These help you to focus your PFCE assessment on a specific area of your program’s PFCE practices. Each indicator is described by a short phrase that tells you the “story line” to look
for as you go across that indicator’s set of markers.
- Markers: These describe what actual programs are really doing, outcomes they are achieving, or goals they are setting for themselves for successful PFCE. These markers are presented in three levels – Starting Point, Progressing, and Innovating – across a spectrum of progress.
Each level is defined below:
- Starting Point: These practices are related to the Head Start Program Performance Standards (HSPS) which are the mandatory regulations that define features of a quality HS/EHS program in concrete terms. Here you will find examples of practices that reflect Head Start’s commitment to building partnerships with parents and families (children’s first and most important educators, nurturers, and advocates). These practices encourage family participation in all aspects of the program. You will also find practices that reflect a commitment to building partnerships within the community to ensure
children and families receive individualized services.
- Progressing: These practices go a step beyond to reflect a deepened focus on goal-oriented relationships between programs and parents and families. They describe how staff build on the trusting partnerships they have established with parents and other family members. They work together to promote the ongoing learning, development, and well-being of children and families alike.
- Innovative: At this level, effective parent, family, and community engagement practices are part of every aspect of the program. Practices in this column build collaborative relationships among the program, parents, families, and community. Parents are empowered as leaders and work side-by-side with staff to make decisions and develop program activities and policies. The community is embraced as the program sees itself as an active member of the community and the early childhood field. Data is collected and used to make decisions that result in improved family and
child outcomes. PFCE approaches at this level are systemic, integrated, and comprehensive.
You can use these markers to develop a rating of your program’s present level of quality on each indicator you choose to assess. You can then use these ratings to create a composite picture of your PFCE efforts for the elements you have assessed. This data should then be used to inform discussions and decisions about next steps to enhance your program’s PFCE practices.
At the end of this document, you will find a list of Head Start Program Performance Standards that directly connects to the seven elements and their indicators.