Family Engagement

Support for Home Visitors

Two women looking at paperwork.Good planning and preparation lead to meaningful, purposeful group socializations that support children's learning and development by strengthening the parent-child relationship. Home visitors need the right skills and knowledge to engage parents in a group setting as well as individually. As their supervisor, consider the strengths of your home visitors and what they need to plan and conduct effective group socializations. You provide support, including observations during socializations, supervision, and professional development opportunities. You also develop a budget that ensures the financial resources needed to provide all required services are available.

Here are some ways to offer training and support to home visitors for effective group socializations:

  • Engage families in planning and implementing socializations (this can be informed by the family partnership agreement), capitalizing on the cultural knowledge and skills that each family brings to socialization experiences
  • Incorporate infant/toddler development
  • Include child safety and injury prevention
  • Offer age- and culturally appropriate experiences
  • Address the needs of dual-language learners, both children and parents
  • Support parent-child interactions in a group setting
  • Facilitate groups of parents and children together
  • Use group socializations as part of the ongoing child assessment process, including parents observing their children and sharing their observations
  • Link individual goals for children and parents, as well as program goals for school readiness and family outcomes, to group socialization experiences
  • Connect socialization experiences to what happens during home visits
  • Collaborate with health managers on how to encourage families to prioritize health issues and follow up when needed
  • Work with community partners to provide information on topics of interest to families or provide on-site services, such as early intervention therapy or observations by mental health professionals
  • Ensure that home visitors’ caseloads are manageable enough so they have enough time to help plan and implement socializations
  • Ensure home visitors have dedicated planning time with other home visitors and a space for planning
  • Develop a schedule that shows which socializations home visitors are responsible for planning and conducting; create a planning form or template that includes socialization elements such as:
    • Goal(s) for the socialization
    • Connection between the socialization goal(s) and individual goals for children and families as well as the Head Start ELOF, program school readiness, and family outcomes goals
    • Parent-child experiences that reflect and extend home visits
    • Parent education/discussion and networking opportunities
    • Nutritious snacks and meals
  • Pair up home visitors to plan and conduct socializations; invite parents to sit in on planning meetings to offer input and ideas
  • Consider a multidisciplinary approach to planning; for example, invite community partners to planning meetings
  • Develop a budget to provide for food for infants, toddlers, and adults; transportation; and needed materials and supplies
  • Regular, at least monthly, reflective supervision with staff

Experience It

Tweety Yates, a professor in the Department of Special Education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, describes and demonstrates the Parents Interacting with Infants (PIWI) model for group socializations.

The PIWI model has:

  • Hello song
  • Opening discussion
  • Parent/child observation playtime
  • Snack time
  • Games
  • Closing discussion
  • Closing song

Reflect on the following questions after watching the video:

  1. How does this model compare with the group socializations in your program?
  2. How does your program welcome families and prepare them for the group socialization?

Learn More

Socialization Environments in Head Start and Early Head Start Home-Based Programs

This tip sheet provides general information related to safe and engaging socialization environments. It presents strategies and additional resources to support partnering with parents in planning and supporting children’s varying developmental levels and interests.