Although home visits are the primary vehicle for delivering comprehensive Head Start (HS) services to young children and families in the home-based option, twice-monthly group socializations are also an important and required component of services. The Home Visitor’s Handbook (see Chapter 7, “Elements of a Home-Based Socialization”) describes group socializations as bringing together small groups of families for child development experiences, parenting education, and opportunities to socialize and become friends with other families. Socializations are also described in the Head Start Program Performance Standards (HSPPS) and the Information Memorandum (IM) Child Development Services During Home Visits and Socializations in the Early Head Start Home-Based Program Option, ACYF-IM-HS-00-22.
The IM goes into much greater detail than the HSPPS regarding implementing socializations for infants and toddlers. It addresses the purpose of socializations; linking socialization experiences to the home visits; curriculum planning; staffing; group size; and environments.
Chapter 7 in the Home Visitor’s Handbook also describes home visitors’ responsibilities for planning and conducting group socializations that
- support families to better understand children’s healthy growth and development as well as readiness for school;
- offer structured and unstructured learning experiences for both children and parents;
- support both parents’ and young children’s development of emotional security through trusting relationships with a limited number of consistent and familiar people;
- support the early child–parent relationship;
- include parent education and opportunities for parents to share their parenting joys and challenges with other parents;
- incorporate experiences that honor the cultural practices of the families;
- integrate comprehensive services: physical health, oral health, mental health, and nutrition, in addition to child development and school readiness; and
- engage families in all aspects of socialization experiences: planning, implementing, and evaluating as described in each family partnership agreement.
Your role as supervisor is to ensure that home visitors have the knowledge, skills, and resources to plan and conduct group socializations and to problem solve with them if socialization challenges, such as low parent attendance, arise.