Family Economic Mobility Toolkit

Step 1: Set a Goal

Goal-setting begins with learning about what is most important, or top-priority, to the family. Some families will have a clearly stated dream or hope that is related to economic mobility through education and employment. Some families may prefer to talk about hopes and dreams rather than setting goals. Some families may have immediate concerns or emergencies to address.

Goals and Objectives

Some goals may be quick to achieve, and some may take longer So, it is important to be realistic when working with families on their goals’ timeline. When setting family economic mobility goals, staff may be able to help families meet their shorter-term objectives. For example, a family may have a goal to buy a house. Staff can support families in achieving smaller steps, or objectives — like opening a savings account — to make progress toward the goal. Achieving smaller steps and quick wins may feel inspiring and motivational to families.

Starting Goal-setting Conversations

Head Start staff partner with families to explore and identify goals, and families may or may not have goals related to financial economic mobility.

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Staff may initiate goal-setting conversations to explore families’ interests with questions like:

  • “What is most important to you right now as a parent/caregiver?”
  • “What are your hopes and dreams for your children and your family?”
  • “If one thing could change in your life during the time we are working together, what would that be?”

Open-ended questions like these allow families to set the tone and direction of goal-setting, encouraging families to share their hopes, dreams, and ideas on a variety of topics or interest areas, which could set the stage for later discussions about goals related to family economic mobility.

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Sample Scenarios

Explore the scenarios below for real-world examples of how to identify and approach goal-setting opportunities.

Scenario 1: A family has a goal of saving $300 so they can be better prepared for emergencies.

Opportunity: Families who have a straightforward goal in mind may move quickly through the goal-setting process and on to taking action toward their goal. You can support families with clear goals in many ways:

  • Work together to think through the action steps they would like to take to achieve their goal of building emergency savings.
  • Share resources, tools, and referrals to support them in developing their savings.
  • Ask the family how often they’d like to check in on their progress and their preferred method of communication — in person, by phone, virtual, email.

Scenario 2: A family mentions their desire to have more financial stability but is not certain of the goal they would like to set in order to get there.

Opportunity: You might spend more time thinking through their priorities and current situation with this family, in order to set an initial goal aimed at increasing financial stability:

  • Dig deeper with them by asking: “If you were to wake up tomorrow and feel financially stable, what would that look like?” or “What would you like your financial situation to look like in one year? Three years?”
  • Provide a tool to support the family in setting a goal, working through the process together or encouraging the family to do so on their own. Try out: