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Mel Gravely

How Does the PFCE Framework Assist with School Readiness?

How Does the PFCE Framework Assist with School Readiness?The Parent, Family, Community Engagement Framework was introduced by Head Start in 2011 as a set of technical assistance resources and research-based methods for implementing Head Start Performance Standards. The PFCE Framework is designed to be a system where agencies can self-assess their programs to identify weaknesses in programming, then provide the tools to help strengthen those areas. The framework itself is not mandated, but with the second round of recompetition already begun, the writing is on the wall that this framework could be the key to keeping a program off the chopping block.

The PFCE Framework works under the assumption that parent, family, and community engagement are the keys to school readiness and sustaining learning gains through third grade. In “Bringing Parent, Family, and Community Framework to Your Program: Beginning a Self Assessment” OHS defines this engagement as:

…building relationships with families that support family well-being, strong parent-child relationships and ongoing learning and development of parents and children alike. It refers to the beliefs, attitudes, behaviors and activities of families that support their children’s positive development from early childhood through young adulthood. Family engagement happens in the home, early childhood program, school and community, and is a shared responsibility with all those who support children’s learning.

At the same time that OHS seeks to define engagement, it also admits that each family’s experience with HS/EHS is unique. As a result, the framework is meant to be fluid and dynamic. But it also recognizes that individualized attention with families can only be successful as long as strong, standardized, research-based program foundations are in place.

The framework outlines seven “Family Engagement Outcomes” as the goals of a strong program:

• Family Well-being
• Parent-Child Relationships
• Families as Lifelong Educators
• Families as Learners
• Family Engagement in Transitions
• Family Connections to Peers and Community
• Families as Advocates and Leaders

In HS/EHS, we want to make the most of the short time we have with children and their families. The PFCE Framework is trying to help us better manage that short time and formalize the engagement process. As we have seen, analysis of the Head Start Impact study has shown that parent involvement is one of the most enduring benefits of the Head Start program. If that’s the case, what can we do to make sure that parents’ enduring involvement is as valuable as possible to their children for the future? If we can encourage parents and families to be lifelong educators or leaders in their communities, then their children will benefit long after they leave Head Start. Children will not only be ready for school, they’ll be ready for life.

At The Gravely Group, we encourage agencies to ask themselves, do you know where your program stands with Parent, Family, and Community Engagement? Have you done the assessment?



  1. Phil Gordon says:

    The increased focus on the role of parents and families has great potential in closing the achievement gap for chidren from low income families. The Framework is supported by sound science. The overwhelming results proving the importance of parenting quality led James Heckman, Nobel Laureate in Economics, to conclude, “The proper measure of child adversity is the quality of parenting — not the traditional measures of family income or parental education … The scarce resource is love and parenting—not money” (Promoting Social Mobility, Boston Review, Sep/Oct 2012).

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