Staff-Parent Relationships That Support Parenting

Step 3. Reaching Agreement on Plans and Next Steps

Two smiling women talking with one another.

Family services staff and home visitors walk beside parents as they plan and set goals for their children and themselves. In this process, it’s important for staff to allow parents to lead.

When staff intentionally step back, parents can step forward. By allowing parents to define their own goals, staff show they trust the parent’s own motivations and believe in their abilities. When they stay present rather than in charge, staff create space for parents to lead. Staff can then support the process.

Staff’s critical role in helping parents define their own parenting desires and setting their own goals starts from a parent’s current situation and mindset. From there, staff and parents can work together to explore the parent’s hopes and dreams.

Goal setting may be as formal as developing Family Partnership Agreements related to parenting or other areas in parents’ lives. They can also be as informal as getting children into the classroom or ready for home visits on time. The program’s parenting curriculum offers another opportunity to support parents in setting goals for themselves and their children. Any time spent planning creates another occasion to “do with” rather than “do for” parents.

Through partnership, staff can help parents translate their dreams into goals and plans. They can also work together and agree on the steps to take. Often, this means beginning with small steps and achievable actions. Parents remain engaged when see that their efforts are leading to growth and positive changes for their children and for themselves.

Applying the Strategy

Instructions: Review the following conversation starters. Choose one to use during an interaction with a parent. Afterward, take some time for self-reflection. How did using the strategy of reaching agreement on plans and next steps make a difference in your interaction?

  • What new things do you want to try to help your child learn and develop over the next few months?
  • What does help or support look and feel like to you?
  • How will we know when your efforts frustrate you and aren’t bringing the results you had hoped for?
  • If there are setbacks, how can I help you get back on track?
  • How can we celebrate your feelings of accomplishment and success as a parent?