Journeys of Hope and Courage
Using storytelling approaches to partner with families

Watch this series of documentary-style videos about the power of storytelling. Explore the impact of hearing the stories of a family when working toward positive outcomes for families and children. Learn best practices and useful strategies for genuine conversations from the example of a Migrant and Seasonal Head Start program.


Discover the importance of letting a family tell their story when collaborating and developing relationships with children and families. Learn to communicate with families and understand their values, strengths, and goals for the future.

The Migrant Experience

Learn about the dreams and experiences of families who migrate to the United States to create a better life for their children.

Migrant families work tirelessly to send their children to school so they have a chance at a healthier and more financially stable life. Once in the U.S., migrant families deal with cultural shock, suffering, and loneliness. A lack of education and knowledge of the language can make it even harder to communicate and to find job opportunities.

A Storytelling Point of View

Watch a Migrant and Seasonal Head Start program staff member interview families about their personal experiences as migrant workers in the U.S. These interactions help program staff understand the authentic needs and goals of families. In this way, storytelling can build partnerships based in trust, honor, and respect. These partnerships can make a positive impact on the lives of families and on the larger community.

The Storytelling Technique

Storytelling is a powerful technique to begin building relationships with migrant families. This video describes how storytelling has opened up new ways for Head Start and Early Head Start programs to connect with families.

Asking and Listening

Asking the right questions and listening carefully and respectfully are equally important in the process of learning about families' personal stories. Being objective while a family shares their history helps them open their hearts and share their strengths, interests, and needs.

The Importance of Questions

The questions you ask — and how you ask them — are critical in learning about the backgrounds, strengths, and opportunities of families. Watch this video to learn specific strategies to use to encourage families to open up about what is most important to them.

The Importance of Listening

Active listening is an important skill for all Head Start and Early Head Start staff. Watch this video to learn more about how listening, body language, and eye contact can help encourage families to share their stories.


Listen and empathize with families about the hardships they have endured. Watch this video to see how staff can connect with and support families, even when there may not be ready solutions to address their challenges.


Learn how Head Start and Early Head Start staff can help families reflect on past experiences. Effective reflection can help staff members better understand families' hopes and dreams. In turn, staff members can help families recognize their skills, abilities, and goals.


Confidentiality is critical for developing strong and trusting relationships, especially for migrant families. It is important for migrant families to understand that personal information will be kept confidential. When families trust staff and share openly, staff can better help families access needed support and services.

A Strength-Based Perspective

When families share their stories, staff can better understand and identify resources to help families achieve those goals. In some cases, storytelling can help families recognize their accomplishments, resources, skills, and abilities.

Appreciating and Sharing

When families share their stories with staff, it can be an emotional experience. Staff can encourage storytelling by sharing experiences or goals they may have in common with families. Recognizing these common ties and honoring the storytelling process can help strengthen relationship between staff and families.

Family Partnership Agreement and Family Strengths and Needs Assessment

Storytelling helps build strong relationships and supports effective family partnership agreements. Learning about families' past experiences, strengths, and needs in an authentic way can help staff support meaningful progress for children, families, and communities.

Family Progress

The process of storytelling can also strengthen relationships within families. Watch this video to hear one staff member discuss on how this process of sharing, listening, and reflecting has helped the families in this Migrant and Seasonal Head Start program—and the community—in surprising ways.

Supporting Families and Staff

Storytelling can be a highly emotional process, especially when families have faced traumatic events, are dealing with ongoing issues, or face problems that staff don't feel equipped to handle. In this video, program staff reflect on the importance of communication, self-care, and having a network of support so they can work effectively working with families.

Program Changes

The process of storytelling can help programs truly empower families. Hear from program staff about how storytelling has changed their Head Start/Early Head Start program for the better. Staff share how they hope this series of videos will help strengthen the work that providers do with migrant families.

Last Reviewed: March 2015

Last Updated: November 16, 2015