Family Economic Mobility Toolkit

Phase 3: Communication with Families

Developing a deeper understanding of strengths, hopes, and challenges, and building partnerships with families is an ongoing process.

Strengthening Trust and Rapport

Enrollment in Head Start programs provides the opportunity for staff and families to continuously learn from each other in both formal and informal ways. Communication is key to relationships during the beginning of partnership building and creates a foundation for all future interactions.

As the family shares their stories, hopes, and accomplishments, staff can find ways to communicate to support positive family outcomes, including economic mobility. Some families may find questions that are direct, like “What are your financial goals?” intimidating or overwhelming, while other families may be open to them. As you get to know each individual family, find ways to individualize your questions and conversation style to each family.

Techniques for Sensitive Conversations

Every conversation about family economic mobility is unique because every family is unique. There are many tools and practices staff can use to have strong, relationship-based conversations centered on families’ financial, career, and educational goals. Some staff and families may feel nervous, uncomfortable, or shy when having conversations around economic well-being. The techniques below are some examples of relationship-based ways to engage in sensitive conversations related to economic mobility.

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Want to practice and learn more about techniques for talking about money? Explore ideas in Talking About Money.

When engaging in sensitive conversations with families, always:

  • Use people-first language.
  • Use language to honor each family’s cultures, languages, and experiences.
  • Recognize that each family has their story.

Before a conversation with a family:

  • Prepare the physical and emotional environment.
  • Consider and learn more about your own perspectives.
  • Learn about the family’s perspective.
  • Consider the family’s culture and structure.
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Want to dive deeper into these techniques?

Engaging with Families in Conversations About Sensitive Topics is a great resource to review the techniques and consider how to incorporate them into all of your work with families.

During a conversation with a family:

  • Be a guide from the side.
  • Ask permission and explain why.
  • Be flexible.
  • Be present.
  • Listen carefully and use silence.

After a conversation with a family:

  • Follow up.
  • Connect to community resources and peer support, when the family is ready.

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Reminders for Family-centered Conversations

  • An equity mindset is important during sensitive conversations.
  • Come to the conversation grounded in strengths-based approaches.
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Learn More with These Resources