Head Start Staff: The Heart of Family Partnerships
In a recent blog post, Parent Involvement is Key to Children’s Success, we talked about how closely linked a child’s later success in life is tied to parent involvement in their educational process.
Equally important is the role of Head Start staff in promoting and sustaining supportive family partnerships. These partnerships, characterized by mutual respect and trust, acceptance, objectivity, flexibility, personalized attention, and cultural awareness make up the foundation of Head Start’s program success.
Head Start Staff refers to:
- Program Directors – include family partnership agreements as an integral part of their Head Start program’s mission, goals, and services
- Program Managers – work to professionally develop staff
- Educators and Staff – regularly interact with families to enhance their family-partnership skills
Developing family partnerships is an ongoing process, beginning with a child’s enrollment in a Head Start program and continuing until the family has made a successful transition from the program.
Staff development that includes skills needed to fully implement this partnership is a continuous process. Ways in which Head Start Staff contribute to its success:
- Develop a mutually respectful partnership with families to enhance the quality of their lives and their communities
- Give families support to reach their goals
- Offer opportunities for parents to engage in group activities, including policy groups and educational activities based on interest and need
- Encourage children and families to participate in family literacy activities and services
- Promote and support parent involvement and leadership throughout the program
- Raise family awareness of community resources
- Assist families in crisis
- Respect and respond competently to each family’s culture, traditions, lifestyle, language, and community
- Initiative effective program practices and maintain a commitment to professionalism
Head Start’s ongoing effectiveness training is enhanced through the Competency Goals and Indicators for Head Start Staff Working with Families. Head Start staff use these guidelines and indicators to review and update job descriptions and qualification standards. They can also use them to guide the selection, training, and supervision of family workers.
Additional resources to help staff — the heart of family partnerships — be the most effective they can be:
Are there additional resources you find beneficial in training Head Start Staff? If so, please include them in the comments below.