Foundations for Excellence

Family and Community Engagement Program Goals and Outcomes

Bulls Eye with arrow IconThe PFCE Framework is your guide to program planning for parent, family, and community engagement. It encourages programs to explore effective ways to design and implement systems and services to achieve expected outcomes for families and children. In Topic 1: Nuts and Bolts of Strategic Planning, we defined the term "expected outcomes" to be results the program anticipates. The PFCE outcomes are defined areas of expected outcomes that all Head Start programs must work toward.

The PFCE Framework helps programs plan with the end, or expected results, in mind. When collecting and using data, it is helpful to consider from the outset what you want to achieve with families and children and which outcomes are most important to work toward over the projected five-year period. Many programs use their data and the expected PFCE outcomes to design their PFCE program goals. Just as the domains in the ELOF are made more specific through the development of school readiness goals, PFCE outcomes can also be tailored to support the strengths and needs of unique populations. This can be done through the development of specific program goals for the provision of family and community engagement program services.

Tell Me More

Learn more about the PFCE Framework.

As program-level goals are developed, consider objectives that will help you meet your program goals. Many programs use the PFCE Framework Foundations (Program Leadership, Professional Development, and Continuous Learning and Quality Improvement) and the Program Impact Areas (Program Environment, Family Partnerships, Teaching and Learning, Community Partnerships, and Access and Continuity) to develop objectives and actions/strategies.

Tracking Progress Toward the Achievement of PFCE Program Goals and Expected Outcomes

There are a variety of data-related tools that can be used to develop goals and measurable objectives and track progress toward achieving them. Many programs use published or locally designed tools to support their ongoing monitoring process. Other helpful sources of information include conversations with key staff and stakeholders (e.g., Policy Council and parent committee) and observations of staff who interact regularly with families (e.g., teachers, family service staff, home visitors, health services staff, bus drivers). Summaries of family input can also be invaluable.

Exclamation Point Icon

The Four R Approach to Support Family Progress:

  • Responsible
  • Respectful
  • Relevant
  • Relationship-based

One way to effectively track progress toward your program goals is to design objectives that address both the effort and the effect of your strategies. A program's level of effort includes the type and amount of family programming offered. Your program's effect focuses on whether your program's activities have made a difference for children and families.

It is important to use data to identify the changes needed to achieve goals for families. For example, while working with individual families to set goals in the family partnership process, program staff may learn about family-specific trends and patterns that can inform program-wide goal setting and planning with community partners. This goal-setting process with families can provide another source of data to inform monitoring and decision-making about what improvements to make over time.

Table 4: Sample Program Goal, Objective, Outcome, and Result

Sample Program Goal
Expected Outcomes
(Actual Results)
“Moving Forward” Head Start program will support all parents through enhancing their parenting skills
Implement an eight-week research-based parenting curriculum offered to parents throughout the program year
Participating parents will increase their parenting knowledge and skills, increase positive interactions with their children, and have opportunities to connect with other parents and community agencies (Positive Parent-Child Relationships)
40 percent of enrolled parents participated in year one. Of those participating parents, 80 percent reported reduced parenting stress levels, increased knowledge about parenting better interactions with their children, and more connections to their peers and other community agencies

Differentiating Between Program-level and Individual Family Goals

Question Mark IconHow does your program track its progress toward the PFCE program goals and outcomes?

It is important to be able to distinguish between: 1) program-level goals to support PFCE outcomes; and 2) individual family goals that are developed with the family through the family assessment and family partnership process. At the same time your program is implementing intake and family assessment procedures, you must also identify family strengths and needs related to PFCE Outcomes. Both the family partnership process as well as the family goals should be aligned with the PFCE Outcomes.

Just as your program develops program-wide goals to support PFCE outcomes, you also will work with the family to develop individual family goals. They are based on the family assessment, family partnership process, and ongoing dialogue.

Table 5: Differences Between Program and Individual Family Goals

Informed By
Program goals to support family outcomes
  • Goals that are designed for all families or for specific groups of families in the program (e.g., immigrant groups, DLLs, fathers) and that support progress toward child and family outcomes
  • Goals that affect all program services and systems
  • Goals that are set at the program level and that may
To answer the question:
What should our program do to make a difference for children and families?
  • Analysis of trends and patterns that affect children and families through:
    • Community assessment
    • Annual self-assessment 
    • Summary of family strengths and needs assessments (aggregated data)
    • Summary of individual family goals from family partnership agreements (aggregated data)
    • Aggregated child assessment data
Individual family goals reflect strengths, needs, and aspirations and are where progress is made toward one or more of the seven PFCE outcomes
  • Goals set with an individual family to support progress toward child and family outcomes
  • Goals developed by staff and parents together, based on the family’s strengths, interests, and needs, and apply to all types of families (e.g., pregnant woman, expectant father, parent of a child with a disability, a couple whose child is transitioning to kindergarten, etc.)
  • Goals may target adult learning, economic mobility, financial stability, and/or child outcomes related to early learning, school readiness, and healthy development
  • Goals and related activities taken on by staff and families relate to PFCE
To answer the question:
How can we partner with this individual family to make progress toward the goals that family members set for themselves and their family?
  • Family discussions about goals, interests, strengths, and hopes 
  • Recruitment and application process 
  • Regular communication with family 
  • Family assessment data
  • Child assessment data

Tips for Linking Family Engagement and School Readiness Goals

left caret iconTell Me More

To learn more about engaging families in program planning, see Building Partnerships: Guide to Developing Relationships with Families.

Ensure families are a part of the program goal-setting process. By engaging families in Head Start planning, program plan design and implementation is strengthened and parents are involved as leaders and decision-makers. To engage families as program planners, be intentional in building a welcoming environment where families feel valued, supported, and ready to contribute. Strength-based attitudes and relationship-based practices help individual staff have positive goal-oriented relationships with families.

Families can be involved in all planning phases, including the development of five-year plans, program plans, and training and technical assistance (T/TA) plans, among others. Parent input on program plans can be sought through Policy Council and parent committee meetings, parent focus groups, staff and parent conversations, parent representation on the Health Services Advisory Committee, and on planning committees. Be sure to thoughtfully include families in diverse circumstances (e.g., families experiencing transitions, families of DLLs) and different sub-groups of families (e.g., fathers, grandparents, families of children with disabilities or special health care needs, pregnant women, refugee and immigrant groups, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT)-headed families).

Exclamation Point Icon

Engaging families in the program planning process strengthens child and family outcomes.

Ensure families are providing input in the development of program school readiness goals. The HSPPS require programs to include parents and family members when setting school readiness goals. Many programs, for example, include parents on school readiness implementation teams and intentionally gather parent input on a range of topics.

Collect and review data about the strengths, needs, and personal goals of families from a variety of sources. Use data collected from the intake process, family and child assessments, ongoing communication with the families, and family partnership agreement process. You will find that family surveys, input from community partners, summaries of individual family goals, the community assessment, and the annual self-assessment are also good data sources. Staff can also use aggregated information about individual families and children—including their goals, strengths, and challenges—to set program goals and measurable objectives that link child and family outcomes. These sources of data can also help programs identify revealing trends and patterns that inform the development of their program goals and objectives.

Table 6: Sample Linking School Readiness and Family Engagement Goals, Objectives, Outcomes, and Results

School Readiness Goal
Expected Outcome
(Actual Results)
Children will engage in positive interactions through secure relationships with consistent, responsive adults (Infant/Toddler Social and Emotional School Readiness Goal)
Implement a 12-week parenting curriculum to enable, at a minimum, 50 percent of families to practice skills related to nurturing their children
50 percent of participating parents will have enhanced warm relationships that nurture their child’s learning and development

60 percent of enrolled families reported enhancements in relationships with their young child(ren) following participation in course

Per ongoing child assessment data:

  • 65 percent of infants (birth–18 months) demonstrate a secure attachment to their parent and to one or more familiar adults (e.g., primary caregiver, another teacher in their classroom, other family members)
  • 70 percent of toddlers (18–36 months) demonstrate the ability to depend on trusted adults (e.g., primary caregiver, another teacher in classroom, parent) to meet their needs appropriately

left caret iconTell Me More

For more information about goal-setting with individual families, see The Family Partnership Process: Engaging and Goal-Setting with Families on the ECLKC.

Ensure alignment between the goals families set for themselves and the goals set at the program level. Consider whether you have planned for services that are responsive to families' strengths and needs. At times, you may need to change a program goal (or objective) to address a gap in services identified during your planning process. You'll also want to consider how goals families set for themselves can support your program's school readiness goals for children.

In summary, programs and families set goals at the program and individual family levels. Program goals related to family outcomes are intended to address the needs of all families in a program. These program-wide goals emerge from several data sources. Program leadership, governing bodies, community partners, staff, and families all work together to set and achieve these goals.

Question Mark IconHow does your program engage families in setting goals and program planning?

In addition, staff work with families to establish specific individual family goals based on the family's strengths, needs, interests, hopes, and progress. This goal-setting process helps programs identify recurring issues and remain responsive to the needs and aspirations of the families they serve. This kind of collaborative, data-informed goal-setting helps programs evaluate the efficacy of their services, monitor progress at individual and program levels, and engage in continuous quality improvement.

Locator Pin for the end of the topic

In Topic 3, you learned how to use different types of goals to provide responsive, high-quality services to children and families. In Topic 4, four scenarios offer samples of program goals and measurable objectives and show how each connects to a program's action plan. The scenarios also include sample data, tools, and methods for tracking progress.