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Mel Gravely

Parent Engagement Still Key in the New Performance Standards

While the New Head Start Performance Standards are not brief, they are somewhat lighter than the old. The numbers of the standard have been reorganized with many standards removed, to reduce the bureaucratic burden.

According to Blanca Enriquez, Director of the Office of Head Start, “The new standards for the program will reduce the current 1,400 Head Start standards by approximately 30 percent, eliminating many prescriptive and duplicative requirements while improving services to children and families in Head Start.”

However, one thing hasn’t changed, parents and families are still at the forefront in the new standards. Look at the numbers in the new standards:

Family Engagement is mentioned 20 times.

Family is in 224 times.

Parent is stated 222 times.

Although many standards have changed, we must remember this: Head Start is a family-centered program. It’s why the program even exists in the first place. We serve the families in our communities. The needy, the special, the mixed; they are Head Start, and let us make them a part of us.

This must be felt in our daily tasks, and evidenced in our to do list. We must make sure each staff member is trained in this area, from the bus driver to the kitchen aide. It is easy to forget, to get caught up in the school readiness, data, meetings and more. But we must not, we cannot, let a day go by without reaching out to our families.

Head Start/Early Head Start families are so wonderful. They are a mixed group of teenagers and parents and grandparents, struggling to live and make a better tomorrow. They are diverse, and yet so many share similar needs. Let us help them create a better future – for themselves, for their children, for our head start programs.

It is up to us to ensure that this message is felt-in our corridors, at our staff meetings, and by our parents.



  1. Kimberly says:

    We in our 0-3 office office work so hard to provide support to our families it is done without much support but done because we see the need to change the outcome of the families who lived through trauma and want a better life for their children. We know what is possible with the resources available…and yet want so much more because we know they all have so much more to contibrutre

  2. Katina Lundy says:

    Parent Involvement is key in our program not only the presence of families in the center setting but also extended involvement carried into the homes. As a Head Teacher for the past 10 1/2 years, I must say that involvement makes a huge different in the lives of the children we serve. When children see familiar faces in their learning environment it helps them to relax and focus.

  3. Janet Eades says:

    Parent involvement is critical. Has anyone informed the parents of this?

  4. Lisa Turkalj-Painter says:

    In Canton, Ohio, we connect our preschool and Head Start families with SPARK. This lies a strong foundation for ongoing family involvement. The Canton City School District works closely with the SPARK parent partners to promote and support family engagement opportunities.

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