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PFCE Interactive Framework

PFCE Framework NavigationGo to the Positive & Goal-Oriented Relationships sectionGo to the Program Leadership sectionGo to the Continuous Program Improvement sectionGo to the Professional Development sectionGo to the Program Environment sectionGo to the Family Partnerships sectionGo to the Teaching and Learning sectionGo to the Community Partnerships sectionGo to the Family Well-being sectionGo to the Positive Parent-child relationships sectionGo to the Families as Lifelong Educators sectionGo to the Families as Learners sectionGo to the Families Engagement in Transitions sectionGo to the Family Connections to Peers and Community sectionGo to the Families as Advocates and Leaders sectionGo to The Head Start Child Development and Early Learning Framework page

The Office of Head Start (OHS) Parent, Family, and Community Engagement (PFCE) Framework is a road map for progress. It is a research-based approach to program change. It is designed to help Head Start programs achieve outcomes that lead to positive and enduring change for children and families.

Use the interactive 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.


Parent and family engagement in Head Start and Early Head Start is about building relationships with families that support family well-being; supporting strong relationships between parents and their children; and nurturing ongoing learning and development for both parents and children. The Parent, Family, and Community Engagement (PFCE) Framework is a roadmap for progress in achieving the types of outcomes that lead to positive and enduring change for children and families.

The PFCE Framework was developed in partnership with programs, families, experts, and the National Center on Parent, Family, and Community Engagement. It is a research-based approach to program change that shows how an agency can work together as a whole—across systems and service areas— to promote parent and family engagement and children's learning and development.

The PFCE Framework graphic demonstrates that when parent and family engagement activities are systemic and integrated across program foundations and program impact areas, family engagement outcomes are achieved. This results in children who are healthy and ready for school. Parent and family engagement activities succeed when they are grounded in positive, ongoing, and goal-oriented relationships with families.

Head Start and Early Head Start Parent and Family Engagement

As research suggests, parents and family members are more likely to become engaged in their young child's development and learning when they have positive and trusting relationships with those who support them.1 In Head Start and Early Head Start, these relationships focus on goals that families develop with the support of program leadership, staff, and engaged community partners. These goal-directed relationships are part of the two-generational approach of working with children and adult family members and distinguish Head Start and Early Head Start from other early childhood initiatives. They are most likely to take root within programs that take intentional steps to promote parent and family engagement.

Families play a critical role in helping their children to prepare for school and a lifetime of academic success. Agencies are required to consult with parents in establishing school readiness goals 45 CFR § 1304.11 (b)(2). It matters when programs engage parents and families in their children's development and learning. In fact, research indicates that:

  • Children with supportive home learning environments show increased literacy development, better peer interactions, fewer behavior problems, and more motivation and persistence during learning activities.2
  • Among the youngest children, daily parent-child reading from infancy prompts cognitive skills as well as early vocabulary gains that lead to more reading and vocabulary growth3, a pattern of growth that has been compared to a snowball.
  • Continued family engagement is important through the school years. Longitudinal studies of low-income children show that high family involvement offsets the risks of children growing up in low-income households and in households with low parent education.4

1 Bryk, A.S. & Schneider, B. (2003). Trust in schools: a core resource for school reform. Educational Leadership, 60(6). Lopez, M.E., Dorros, S., & Weiss, H. (1999). Family-centered child care. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Family Research Project. 
2 Fantuzzo, J., McWayne, C., & Perry, M. (2004). Multiple dimensions of family involvement and their relations to behavioral and learning competencies for urban, low-income children. The School Psychology Review, 33(4), 467–480. 
Weiss, H., Caspe, M., Lopez, M. E. (2006). Family Involvement in Early Childhood Education. Family Involvement Makes a Difference. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Family Research Project. 
3 Raikes, H., Luze, G., Brooks-Gunn, J., Raikes, H.A., Pan, B.A., Tamis-LeMonda, C.S., et al. (2006). Mother–child book reading in low-income families: Correlates and outcomes during the first three years of life. Child Development 77(4), 924–953. 
4 Dearing, E., Kreider, H., Simpkins, S., & Weiss, H. B. (2006). Family involvement in school and low-income children's literacy performance: Longitudinal associations between and within families. Journal of Educational Psychology, 98, 653–664. 
Barnard, W.M. (2004). Parent involvement in elementary school and educational attainment. Children & Youth Services Review, 26(1), 39-62.

To learn more, download the OHS PFCE Framework and watch the PFCE Framework Webinar Series.

Last Updated: July 17, 2018