During this first phase, staff gather and use the information that families share during the recruitment and enrollment process.
Building Relationships and Gathering Information
Enrollment offers many opportunities to talk with families and learn about their strengths, hopes, and challenges and what they want from the program. Program staff can begin to establish a partnership with families during recruitment and enrollment when they:
- Approach families with respect and care.
- Learn about families and their children, culture, and language.
- Begin with families’ strengths and skills.
- Identify families’ support systems.
- Help families find and complete required forms.
- Talk with families about program requirements.
- Connect families to other community resources.
Recruitment and enrollment may be the first opportunity to begin to listen for a family’s hopes and concerns around economic well-being. Families seeking Head Start services will recognize that their income status is one of the factors influencing their eligibility, so financial conversations are part of the earliest discussions between staff and families. A family’s goals at this early phase may be primarily related to enrolling their children in a care and education program. However, in some cases the enrollment process provides an opportunity for staff to immediately connect families to community resources. Some of these resources may directly relate to economic mobility. They may later become part of conversations with families about their goals and, in particular, family economic mobility goals.
One way to build relationships and show families you care is to listen to them, to ask permission to share ideas, and to offer concrete supports, as they are ready. Some immediate needs may come up before staff and families have an opportunity to get to know each other on a deeper level. For example, if a family is unable to pay their electric bill, you may be able to connect them to utility assistance through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). If a family does not have enough food in their home, you can connect them immediately to a local food bank.
Learn More with These Resources
- Building Partnerships: Guide to Developing Relationships with Families (guide)
- Staff-Parent Relationships That Honor and Support Parenting (guide)
- Relationship-Based Competencies to Support Family Engagement (guide)
Resource Type: Article
National Centers: Parent, Family and Community Engagement
Last Updated: September 7, 2023