Strategies for Transitions

Action Strategies
Provide continuity of services
  • Ensure that your service area plans describe how you will provide continuity of services for children in homeless situations.
  • Meet with parents when they register.
  • Assess the child quickly.
  • Establish classroom routines for incoming and departing children.
  • Develop a partnership with each family and determine what services and supports they want and need.
  • Prepare families when it is time to separate from Early Head Start or Head Start.
  • To ensure smooth transition for families, communicate with the programs.
  • Identify staff who will coordinate the transition process for each family.
  • For children moving to elementary school, contact the homeless liaison.
  • Provide staff visits between the receiving and sending programs to encourage communication and collaboration.
  • Establish a record-keeping process for transitions.
  • Prepare to address staff reactions to transitions of families.
  • Coordinate with other programs and agencies to create a transition system.
  • Ensure continued services during and after the transition.
  • For families in shelters, obtain their consent for release of information so shelter staff can relay a family's forwarding address and services can continue.
Support children and families
  • Ensure that your service area plans describe how you will provide continuity of services for children in homeless situations.
  • Get to know new families with a "get-to-know-you" questionnaire or conversation.
  • Talk to and welcome new families individually.
  • Give new families a "welcome gift" (e.g. school supplies, school clothes).
  • Introduce new children to the class.
  • Be sensitive about smoothly integrating new students into the classroom and Head Start community.
  • Identify staff and peer buddies.
  • Keep a short, simple list of classroom rules and procedures.
  • Make sure all children have a chance to have a class job/role and to participate in all activities.
  • Start a portfolio of class work for children to take with them when leaving the program.
  • Maintain a relationship with departing families by providing them with stamped, self-addressed envelopes and stationery.
  • Meet with families to discuss the transition process.
  • Arrange for a family to visit the receiving program, or spend a day there, and accompany the family if necessary.
  • Prepare the child in terms of skills and competencies for the transition.
  • To support transitions, provide orientation events and written materials such as transition handbooks.
  • Be available for home visits for families who want more support during transitions.
  • Be an advocate for the child and the family.
Address the high mobility of families and the transient nature of homelessness
  • Ensure that your service area plans address the issues your community faces regarding families in homeless situations.
  • When a family moves, allow a child to remain in a program when it is in his or her best interest.
  • Let a family know that it is important to notify the program if they move.
  • Minimize educational disruption due to homelessness.
  • Connect the available community resources for young children to improve the provision of comprehensive services to children experiencing homelessness and their families.
  • For families in shelters, obtain their consent for release of information so shelter staff can relay a family's forwarding address and services can continue.
Use a transition card
  • Print transition cards [RTF, 3.37MB] with your program's contact information.
  • When a new family arrives, ask if they have a transition card from their previous program. If they do, obtain parent consent for transfer of records, contact the former program, and arrange for the release of information and transfer of records.
  • Complete a new transition card for the family. On the back of the card, include enrolled siblings.
  • Give the new card to the family when they enroll or just before they leave your program. Ask them to keep it in a safe place and to show it to the next program during enrollment or to the elementary school.

Return to the Explore Information tab

Kim Garcia, Family Advocate
Head Start of Elko, Nevada

Kim Garcia is a family advocate who works with families in homeless situations in the Head Start of Northeastern Nevada in Elko Nevada. Select the link below to hear or read what Kim has to say about transitioning in Head Start for families experiencing homelessness.

Transitioning [00:00:28] | Read the transcript

Transitioning

Homeless children and families in Early Head Start and Head Start really need support. They need compassion, they need understanding. When they transition to Head Start, I think continuity of care is really critical… that a family doesn't have to start all over with a different caseworker or a different group of employees or staff. You know, it's just very streamlined, you can just continue to move forward in making great progress.

Return to the Explore Information tab

Last Updated: January 6, 2017