Family Engagement

Including Grandparents in Home-Based Activities

Tip Sheet LogoIntroduction

Home visits and socializations build the relationship between parents and their children. Grandparents and extended family members may also participate in these activities. They may be especially helpful if the grandparents are highly involved in the family's lives. 


  • Grandparents may not take the place of parents during a home visit unless they are the child's legal guardians
  • When grandparents are the child's legal guardians, the home visits and socializations focus on the relationship between grandparents and the child 

Purpose of Home-Based Activities

No matter who attends the home visit or socialization, the ultimate goals of the home-based activities are to help parents and guardians:

  • Develop their role as the child's first teacher
  • Grow the guardians' parenting skills
  • Provide learning opportunities at home


Planning and Programming

Be aware of state regulations about grandparent guardianship and teen parents. For example, if the child's parent is under the age of 16, some states require grandparents be the child's legal guardian. In this situation, work with the child's grandparents and parents.

Programs must ensure that requirements for the home visiting program option are met and maintained. In addition, programs can: 

  • Include extended family members in home visits when the members have frequent contact with the child
  • Make sure extended family members support the parents but avoid taking over parental roles
  • Plan content and activities for the home visits or socializations with parents and grandparents
  • Document when grandparents participate in the home visits or socializations
  • Decide when parents need enhanced services and find the most appropriate course of action
  • Create systems to help support staff learn about the grandparent
  • Provide training, ongoing support (e.g., coaching, reflective supervision), and resources to staff who are working with families who have multigenerational caregivers

Special Circumstances

When grandparents participate in these activities, many programs also focus on their parenting skills and the grandparents' relationships with their adult child (the parent of the grandchild).

There may be special circumstances when programs, home visitors, or families want to consider including grandparents in home visits or socializations. For example, when the: 

  • Parents and child live in the grandparents' home
  • Grandparents serve as temporary guardians for the child
  • Grandparents provide frequent child care
  • Grandparents visit often

Program staff gather as much information about the child and specific circumstances of the family. Home visits that include grandparents are jointly planned by both the home visitor and the parents. Parents must also participate in the home visits.

Grandmother with her grandsonHead Start Program Performance Standards

Education in home-based programs, 45 CFR §1302.35:

  • (b) Home-based program design
  • (c) Home visit experiences
  • (e) Group socialization

Terms, 45 CFR §1305.2:

  • "Parent"


Home Visitor's Handbook

The Grandparent Guide: What's New? What's the Same? [Set of five guides]