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Mel Gravely

Relationship-Based Competencies: Coordinated, Integrated, Comprehensive Services

We’ve reached #7 in our series about the nine Head Start Relationship-Based Competencies: Coordinated, Integrated, Comprehensive Services.

Assembling a Team

Putting together a comprehensive service team for the families we work with is very important to their success in Head Start and Early Head Start programs. Every person that works with the families should have some basic knowledge of health, mental health, child development, and disabilities, so that the process to coordinate services for families is as seamless as possible for everyone that is involved in providing and receiving services. Coordinating services doesn’t just mean services that the Head Start agency provides, but also services that outside agencies need to provide as well. Everyone working together with one sole purpose: To assist families in meeting their goals.

Understanding Families’ Needs

Each family that walks through the doors of our programs has specific needs and goals that they need to address. It is the role of the Head start and Early head start staff to work together as a team, (mental health, teaching, health and disabilities to make sure those families’ individual values and practices are incorporated into their service plan. Making sure that whatever is decided for the family is respectful of their culture and their personal beliefs.

Communication with Families

Communication is a tremendous part of being transparent when we are working with parents. Being able to communicate with families and others about the importance of health, mental health, and child development is very important for the growth of the families we are working with as well as instrumental in goal setting and coordinating services with partnering agencies. For example meeting with a disabilities specialist, teacher and parents to discuss the best way to assist a child reach their academic goals in the classroom setting. Making sure that everyone involved in the child’s progress is working towards the same goal. This may mean having weekly meetings, conducting follow up observations, as well as phone calls to give updates and discuss any unexpected issues that might arise. Keeping the lines of communication open is what makes the biggest difference.

Communication between Staff

The next component to providing, coordinating and integrating comprehensive services is making sure that all pertinent information about families is appropriately shared with colleagues and professionals in a way that safeguards confidentiality and increases service coordination. Not all information that the families share needs to be disseminated to all the individuals that are working with the family. This is where making sure the there is appropriate measures of confidentiality that are being practiced. The only information that needs to be shared is what is needed to allow support staff to be able to do their job effectively.

Sometimes this can be hard to do, because we are naturally inclined to share what we know. The family’s best interest should always be considered when creating support systems for the families we are working with. If there is ever confusion with what needs to be shared, ask for the assistance of your supervisor.

Building Over Time

Being a member of a comprehensive service team, doesn’t just happen overnight. It is something that you get better with over time. With each family that you work with, you will increase your skills, and you will create new connections that will offer you new resources and partnerships that you will be able to use to better assist families that you will work with in the future. That is why knowing the community that you are servicing and the resources that are available is so very important to your role. Get out there and network. Ask lots of questions and let others ask you about your agency. That is how you figure out if you can help each other.


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