5.3 Ongoing Professional Development


What Is It?

Professional development is a life-long, dynamic, and evolving process. Professional development activities should incorporate adult learning principles. They should build on each other and repeat central themes and requirements of the HSPPS, the Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework, and your program over time and in a variety of ways. Provide an array of activities to meet individual staff members’ varied needs. Each home visitor will bring different experiences and skills to the job and will require different approaches for building and refining their skills.

Head Start Program Performance Standard 1302.92(b) The goal of all professional development activities is to assist staff in acquiring or increasing knowledge and skills needed to provide more effectivehigh-quality, comprehensive services to families with very young children.within the scope of their job responsibilities.

How do you evaluate the impact of your professional development activities on what you do with children and families? Both informal and formal methods—for example, parent surveys, child-level assessment, and attainment of goals in the family partnership agreement—provide useful information. Evaluation is an integral part of training and professional development. Make sure to plan for it when you create individual and program training/professional development plans.

How To

  • Assess home visitors’ interests, strengths, and areas of concern. You may use a survey, conversations during reflective supervision, observation using a checklist or more formal observation tool, and goals identified in their professional development plans.

  • Match training and other professional development experiences to the home visitors’ interests and goals. When considering group training, invite home visitors to help you plan.

  • Consider the following potential training topics. Add additional topics that are relevant for your program, families, and community:

  • Offer a variety of professional development opportunities, for example, monthly in-service trainings; quarterly program-wide trainings; weekly staff presentations; monthly group meetings to discuss common challenges, share resources, and explore new topics; access to professional literature; and attendance at conferences and workshops. Consider following up training by scheduling immediate home visit observations to observe how home visitors apply new knowledge and skills and to provide coaching.

  • Training is successful when it is strengths-based, respectful, and collaborative. Adults learn best when they feel included, appreciated, and responded to. Make sure that content shared through PowerPoint slides, handouts, discussions, and activities draws on home visitors’ knowledge and experiences and is easily understood (consider characteristics such as reading level and what languages home visitors speak and read).

  • Provide formal educational opportunities, including college credit. Head Start Program Performance Standard 1302.92(b) states that as appropriate, academic credit should be attached to educational opportunities for staff training and development.

Learn More

Some training and technical assistance (T/TA) strategies reflect adult learning principles better than others do, maximizing results. When you adopt approaches to T/TA that incorporate adult learning principles, your staff will be highly engaged and sustained program change is more likely to occur. This document lists 12 common T/TA strategies.


The webisodes in this series offer key messages and helpful resources to get staff started with the youngest children and their families. Managers can use Early Essentials to design orientation experiences or staff can participate on their own. The webisodes cover: components of quality in programs serving the youngest children; the importance of relationships; services to expectant families; the rapid growth and development of the first three years; school readiness for infants and toddlers; self-care; environments; responsive interactions; and language development


Discover ways to support professional development for staff and supervisors around the nine relationship-based competencies. Use these self-assessments to develop required individual professional development plans. They also may be used in preparation for pre-service training, mid-year check-ins, and year-end check-ins.