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Online Training: Prog Gov Workshop | Webinars
Mel Gravely
August-31-2015

Does Your Program’s Atmosphere Shout “Welcome?”

family_studyCreating a welcoming environment is more than developing a special place for visitors to gather and talk or placing a ‘Welcome’ sign on the wall. Early Head Start and Head Start programs can try a variety of strategies to build a bridge connecting the staff with families.

The message these strategies convey to parents should be: You are welcome, you are important to us, and we want to work with you to educate your children. The Gravely Group defines family-friendly programs as those that create a climate in which every aspect of the program is open and helpful. Family-friendly programs strive to forge partnerships with all families, not just those that are most involved.

Unfortunately, the opposite can also happen: program culture can marginalize families by creating an environment that discourages involvement.

Here are some suggestions to ensure your program is embracing all families:

Provide a personal greeting and welcome packet for all parents visiting the program, including a community services directory, important program contact information, and school calendar. A First impression only happens once.

Hold an open house, prior to program year opening, at which families can meet their children’s teachers, tour the building and meet other parents. This helps parents and children feel more comfortable when the program begins.

Offer translators to welcome and assist families during activities. If not available, ask other parents to translate for new families.

Create volunteer recognition activities such as events, certificates and thank-you cards. When families feel needed, they participate more. Lots of simple activities keep families full of life.


Does Your Program’s Atmosphere Shout “Welcome?”

The Gravely Group believes parental engagement is the number one predictor of a child’s success later in life. With your assistance, your program can develop great relationships with parents all during the year.

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