The Head Start Parent, Family, and Community Engagement (PFCE) Framework is a road map for progress. It can be used in program-wide strategic planning, program design and management, continuous learning and improvement activities, as well as with governing bodies and parent groups. The Framework is also useful as a professional development tool. It can help all staff members understand their role in systemic, integrated, and comprehensive PFCE, and to coordinate their efforts with others.
Consider using the PFCE Framework to enhance and coordinate program services. Use it to inform community partners about Head Start and Early Head Start parent and family engagement goals and the importance of those goals to children's school readiness and success in school and life. The Head Start PFCE Framework is intended to inspire a renewed spirit of collaboration as programs identify and take next steps to engage families and communities to achieve better outcomes for children and families.
Use the interactive PFCE Framework to find research, resources, and regulations related to program foundations, program impact areas, family engagement outcomes, and child outcomes. Select any area of the Framework below to get started.
Defining Family and Community Engagement
Family engagement is an interactive process through which program staff and families, family members, and their children build positive and goal-oriented relationships. It is a shared responsibility of families and professionals that requires mutual respect for the roles and strengths each has to offer. Family engagement means doing with—not doing to or for—families. At the program level, family engagement involves parents’ engagement with their children and with staff as they work together toward the goals that families choose for themselves and their children. It also involves families and staff working toward goals to improve the program. Head Start and Early Head Start staff work together with families, other professionals, and community partners in ways that promote equity, inclusiveness, and cultural and linguistic responsiveness.
Children are at the heart of meaningful family engagement. They are the inspiration for positive, goal-oriented, parent-provider relationships.
Parents enter relationships with staff on their children’s behalf, and they deepen these relationships with their children in mind. They know their children better than anyone—their temperaments, personalities, strengths, vulnerabilities, talents, and special needs. They know their own cultures and what they want to transmit to their children. When parents share their knowledge, they improve provider practices and program quality.
Head Start and Early Head Start staff create authentic partnerships with parents when they convey their eagerness to welcome parents’ expertise and their readiness to share the care. Parents can believe in the partnership when they feel the passion providers share with them—for the quality of the child’s everyday experiences, for supporting the parent-child relationship, and for laying the foundations early for a thriving future.
Head Start and Early Head Start staff and community agencies build partnerships that honor and are responsive to the languages and cultures of the families they serve.
Community engagement refers to the mutually respectful, strengths-based interactions of Head Start and Early Head Start staff and families with community members and agencies at all levels. These partnerships support parents’ roles as valued community members and their progress toward their goals for themselves and their children.
Community partners provide tangible child development supports and resources that families and staff want and need. They can work with families and Head Start and Early Head Start staff toward such goals. These include parents’ educational advancement, economic mobility, and other aspects of family well-being.
Head Start and Early Head Start staff actively seek out and respond to community voices, strengths, and needs. They collaborate with families, community members, and other local agencies to identify common goals, align resources, and share data for continuous improvement and effective partnerships.
Resource Type: Article
National Centers: Parent, Family and Community Engagement
Last Updated: January 19, 2023