Family Engagement

Relationship-Based Competencies to Support Family Engagement

The Relationship-based Competencies (RBCs) are based on research and recommended practice across many fields working with families from pregnancy through the early childhood years. These fields include:

  • Early care and education
  • Early intervention
  • Infant mental health
  • Child welfare
  • Maternal and child health
  • Pediatrics
  • Social work
  • Psychology

The RBCs are consistent with specific state core knowledge and competencies for early childhood professionals and other preparation resources for the early childhood workforce. They can reinforce and extend efforts across states to increase family engagement in early childhood programs. The RBCs are aligned with the Head Start Program Performance Standards and the 2016 Child Care and Development Fund Final Rule.


This series is organized as a set of four resources: an overview and three resources designed for specific roles—family services professionals, teachers and child care providers, and home visitors. Each role-specific resource also describes related competencies for supervisors and leaders.

In addition, there are professional development assessment tools for professionals and their supervisors. They can use the tools to assess progress in each competency and identify areas for professional growth.


This series is intended for Head Start, Early Head Start, and child care directors, managers, and parent leaders; training and technical assistance (T/TA) providers; and child care administrators, state-level professionals, and direct child-serving practitioners.

Using the RBCs

The RBCs can be used at the individual, program, and state levels.

Early childhood professionals can use the RBCs to:

  • Strengthen relationships with all families
  • Support families in taking positive steps toward their own goals
  • Identify personal and professional strengths and challenges for supporting family engagement
  • Choose professional development opportunities in their program and community to enhance their relationship-based practices

Program directors, managers, supervisors, coaches, and consultants can use the RBCs to:

  • Understand and identify the skills and knowledge that early childhood professionals have and need
  • Plan and lead professional development opportunities
  • Plan and implement opportunities for reflective practice and coaching
  • Develop program strategies and policies for enhancing strengths-based and culturally and linguistically responsive family engagement
  • Create job descriptions for professionals and supervisors that include family engagement
  • Enhance partnerships with community organizations that support families with young children

State, district, county, and community leaders can use the RBCs to:

  • Develop strategic plans to enhance early childhood workforce development
  • Form new partnerships or strengthen existing partnerships with colleges and universities to support the inclusion of family engagement in educational opportunities
  • Help make decisions about the use of existing resources to promote family engagement
  • Develop systems and infrastructure to support collaboration among community partners
  • Coordinate family engagement efforts across early childhood initiatives and systems