ECD believes that families are children’s first, longest lasting, and most important teachers, advocates, and nurturers and truly radical family engagement can change the landscape of education and early childhood systems. In order to create that change, ECD is committed to working with our partners to develop and support the implementation of radical family engagement across the country.
About Early Childhood Family Engagement
Strong family engagement is central in promoting children's healthy development and wellness, including:
- social-emotional and behavioral development;
- preparing children for school;
- seamlessly transitioning them to kindergarten; and
- supporting academic achievement in elementary school and beyond.
Families are children’s first, longest lasting, and most important teachers, advocates, and nurturers. Positive parenting and strong family engagement is central-- not supplemental-- to promoting children’s healthy development and wellness. This includes social-emotional and behavioral development; preparing children for school; seamlessly transitioning them to kindergarten; and supporting academic achievement in elementary school and beyond. Families’ engagement in children’s learning at home and in early care and education programs can impact lifelong health, developmental and academic outcomes.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of Education (ED) released a Guidance Document on Family Engagement Visit disclaimer page from the early years to the early grades. The guidance document:
- Highlights the research that supports effective family engagement in children's learning, development and wellness;
- Identifies core principles of effective family engagement practices from HHS' and ED's family engagement frameworks;
- Provides recommendations to states, Local Education Agencies (LEAs), schools and community-based early childhood programs for implementing effective family engagement practices; and
- Highlights resources for states, LEAs, schools, and early childhood program to build capacity to effectively partner with families.
What is Radical Family Engagement?
Radical family engagement must be driven by families, which are a child’s first and best teacher, embraces parents and families as partners in the whole system, and is unique to each community.
Radical family engagement has yet to be fully realized or embraced by K-12 and other systems serving children and families. We are at critical moment to bring public and private stakeholders together, with parents at the center, to learn, re-think, shift the current philosophy, and co-create a more meaningful system that is grounded in equity and radical family engagement.
In October 2020, ECD hosted a series of conversations with key cross-sector partners to bring new insights for how radical family engagement could change the landscape of education and early childhood systems, starting in the early years. For more information on the event, see the Radical Family Engagement Event page. For a written summary of the Radical Family Engagement event, see ECD’s Journey Map.
Early care and education teachers and providers play a central role in partnering with families on their children’s learning and development. ACF is pleased to announce three new resources that can inform early childhood programs, networks, and States in their work to partner with and support families with young children using evidence-informed approaches:
- Compendium of Parenting Interventions Visit disclaimer page : A collection of evidence-based parenting interventions.
- Intervention Implementation Guide Visit disclaimer page : This guidebook describes the steps and best practices for successfully selecting and implementing a parenting intervention. The purpose of this guidebook is to provide program, state, and network leaders an easy-to-use tool for implementing a parenting intervention.
- Tracking Progress in Early Care and Education: Program, Staff, and Family Measurement Tools Visit disclaimer page
Early care and education staff can use this guide to identify examples of tools that may be used to measure family engagement outcomes and relationships with families. This guide is part of the Measuring What Matters: Using Data to Support Family Progress Visit disclaimer page series.
Head Start Parent, Family, and Community Engagement Framework
- The Head Start Parent, Family, and Community Engagement (PFCE) Framework Visit disclaimer page provides programs with a research-based, organizational guide for implementing Head Start Program Performance Standards for parent, family, and community engagement.
- Childcare.gov Spotlight Parent Resources Visit disclaimer page
Dual Capacity-Building Framework for Family and School Partnerships
- The Dual Capacity-Building Framework for Family-School Partnerships Visit disclaimer page is designed to support the development of family engagement strategies, policies, and programs. The Framework was created to be a compass, laying out the goals and conditions necessary to chart a path towards effective family engagement efforts that are linked to student achievement and school improvement.
For more resources on family engagement, please see this resource list.