The Family Services Manager’s Role in Supporting Staff Working with Families

One of your key roles as a family services manager is to support your team of family services staff as they work with families. This section covers important areas of this role: wellness strategies for yourself and your team, and the family partnership and community partnership processes within the Parent, Family, and Community Engagement (PFCE) Framework's Program Impact Areas.

Wellness Strategies

Two women going over notes.Wellness is a condition of every part of our lives. Our social, emotional, physical, intellectual, occupational, financial, environmental, and spiritual selves need and deserve to be well.

You are the heart of promoting family engagement. When you are well, you can better support families and staff. This helps build and strengthen positive and goal-oriented relationships, which further supports family and staff.

As a family services manager who works with family services professionals and home visitors, your commitment to creating a culture of wellness is essential. Staff can benefit personally and professionally by practicing self-care. As a manager, you can nurture a healthy workplace through policies and practices that minimize staff stress and burnout, promote staff wellness, and support high-quality family engagement. In addition, you can support staff wellness by integrating it into your program's professional development opportunities and regular work routines.

Partnering with families to support their progress toward program and personal goals is both rewarding and stressful. The stress makes self-care — attention to your own wellness — all the more critical.

Think about self-care as charging your batteries, which provides you with the energy and capacity to care for others. Finding simple but effective ways to support your own wellness benefits you, your program, and the families in your program.

You can support the wellness of your staff by implementing program strategies for leaders and supervisors.

You also can promote self-care among your staff by offering them the tips from Self-care Tips for Family Services Professionals and Home Visitors.

Putting It into Practice Activity: Scenario and Worksheet

Read the scenario and complete the Wellness Strategies: Create Your Timeline Worksheet.

Scenario: Gloria's Wellness Strategies

Gloria meets with the whole family services team to discuss strategies for developing and supporting a culture of wellness and a welcoming program environment for families. Lisa, a family services staff, suggests they post some short quotes and reminders to take a few deep breaths near the elevators and restrooms, to encourage staff and families to slow down and relax.

Gloria is encouraged by her team's input and creates her self-care strategies to help manage the stress of being a new manager. Her plan includes the following:

  • Scheduling a lunch break with a coworker at least once a week away from her desk to build social connections
  • Walking at least three evenings each week for exercise and stress relief at the end of the day

Gloria talks with her program director, Molly, and her team about creating a staff wellness plan for the whole center. Gloria and Molly form a staff wellness planning team, which includes the health manager, mental health consultant, nutrition manager, and human resources representative.

The team starts by gathering information from all staff on their wellness interests and needs.

Then, with this information, they seek out community partners, including a local meditation center that provides training for staff on mindfulness, to support the needs and interests identified by the staff.

Gloria and Molly also realize that reflective supervision has not been a priority, given all the competing priorities at the center. In response, they set regular times for reflective supervision and identify backup staff who can be available if urgent issues arise while a manager or staff member is in reflective supervision. In addition, Gloria and Molly plan to check in with staff after six months to assess if these wellness strategies meet the staff's needs or if changes are needed.

Gloria documents the new plan using the Wellness Strategies: Create Your Timeline Worksheet.

Now it's your turn to create wellness strategies for your program.

You Got This!

"Follow effective actions with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action."

– Peter Drucker


"It ain't as bad as you think. It will look better in the morning."

-Colin Powell

PFCE Program Impact Areas

A blank PFCE Framework with section two highlighted.Program leaders, managers, and staff focus on the PFCE Framework's Program Impact Areas. Family services managers play an important role in creating welcoming environments to support family and community partnerships. Through comprehensive services, program staff and managers support improved outcomes for children and families in the areas of well-being, relationships, transitions, teaching, learning, community connections, and advocacy.

Program leaders, managers, and staff also create partnerships with community members and organizations. These partnerships support strong and effective program outreach and access for every community member who could benefit from Head Start and Early Head Start services.

The Family Partnership Process

The PFCE Framework shows program leaders, managers, and staff the components they need to create welcoming environments for families that support partnerships. The six phases of the family partnership process support engagement and goal setting with families. In your role as a family services manager, you will support staff in learning and implementing these phases. These are:Pie chart showing six phases and seven steps as described in ongoing text.

  1. Recruitment and Enrollment. This phase encourages staff to go where families live and visit within the community and share information about your program to enroll families. During enrollment, staff gather and use the information that families share.
  2. Family and Child Assessment. During this phase, staff learn more about the child and the family.
  3. Communication with Families. This phase encourages staff to develop a deeper understanding of families' strengths, hopes, and challenges.
  4. Goal-setting with Families. During this phase, staff use the seven steps for setting and reaching goals with families (see below) to generate ideas and prioritize their interests and goals.
  5. Follow-up and Review. This phase creates an opportunity for staff and the family to look more closely together at the specific progress they have made. During this phase, families can adjust their goals as needed.
  6. Continuous Program Improvement. During this phase, staff and managers collect and use data to help shape goals and inform decisions at the program level for continuous improvement.

Successful goal setting relies on strong partnerships between staff and families. As we get to know families and become partners, we can identify priorities and set meaningful goals together.

The seven steps for setting and reaching goals with families are:

  1. Set a Goal
  2. Identify Skills
  3. Assess Strengths
  4. Examine Stressors
  5. Explore Strategies
  6. Determine Support
  7. Track Progress and Celebrate Successes

You can encourage your team to review The Family Partnership Process: Engaging and Goal-setting with Families for specific examples of how programs use the steps with families to generate ideas to prioritize their interests and goals. In addition, you can discuss the skills and strengths each team member can contribute to the family's goals. You can also consider the stressors that may impact the process.

Discussions like these help staff and families develop strategies and action steps as they identify the resources family members need to reach their goals. You and your team can consider each family's progress, revisit priorities, and celebrate goals as family members decide what success means for them.

You Got This!

"You've got to get up every morning with determination if you're going to bed with satisfaction."

-George Lorimer

Putting It into Practice Activity: Scenario and Worksheet

Read the scenario, then complete the Family Partnership Process: Create Your Timeline Worksheet.

Scenario: Gloria Plans Her Program's Family Partnership Process

Gloria starts to familiarize herself with the high-quality services Family Dreams offers to families. She shadows James, a family services staff member, to learn how he builds relationships with families and helps them set goals using the family partnership and goal-setting processes.

James discusses how he uses the six phases of the Family Partnership Process to build trusting relationships with families.

Gloria reflects on what she learned from James. The family services team already has many aspects of the family partnership process in place, but they don't use a consistent timeline across the team. So, Gloria begins developing a timeline to support her team in planning its family partnership process using the Family Partnership Process: Create Your Timeline worksheet.

Now it's your turn to plan and create a timeline for implementing your program's family partnership process.

Community Partnership Process

Community partnerships are fundamental to effective parent, family, and community engagement. Program leaders, managers, and staff create partnerships with community members and organizations to strengthen program outreach and expand available resources for families. These partnerships also ensure access for every community member who could benefit from Head Start and Early Head Start services. The six-step community partnership process illustrates the activities for engaging community members and organizations to help program leadership and staff build relationships with community partners. The steps, outlined in Tools for Planning Community Partnerships, are:

  1. Define the purpose of the partnership.
  2. Assess the environment and the partnerships' capacities.
  3. Establish the partnership's goals and expected outcomes.
  4. Explore and select strategies for supporting the partnership's work.
  5. Develop a plan of action.
  6. Consider opportunities for community impact.

These six steps can guide your program's formal and informal partnerships, community assessment, outreach, and recruitment process and efforts. As a family services manager, your role in community partnerships may vary depending on your program's structure, roles, and priorities. You may be responsible for developing community partnerships with your family services team, or you may support your program leadership in developing community partnerships, for example.

You Got This!

"Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant."

-Robert Louis Stevenson

Putting It into Practice Activity: Scenario and Worksheet

Read the scenario, then complete the Community Partnership Process: Create Your Timeline Worksheet.

Scenario: Gloria and Community Partnerships

Gloria meets with Denise, another family services staff member, to discuss the community partnership process. Denise shares the six steps that support engagement and partnership with other community organizations from the Tools for Planning Community Partnerships. She also familiarizes Gloria with all the program's established community partnerships and agreements.

Gloria reflects on her conversation with Denise, uses the knowledge she gained from the exchange, and begins developing a plan to support her team in building community partnerships using the Community Partnership Process: Create Your Timeline Worksheet.

Now it's your turn to develop your community partnership process plan and timeline to support your team.