If you run a Head Start (HS), Early Head Start (EHS) or EHS-Child Care Partnership (CCP), you know that parent involvement is at the foundation of what makes the program successful. After all, those who care for the children you serve are their first teachers, their mentors, their life.
Parent engagement is one of my favorite training sessions to facilitate. I love reminding those who serve the families all the ways in which engagement can happen with little to no money but with consistent effort.
In the next few blogs, you will see ideas that attendees have brainstormed throughout years of training sessions. Try implementing a few of these in your program to help keep families engaged in all the great work you do!
Here are the first 10:
- Identify ways you can celebrate parent successes — a congratulations board in the center, time allotted in parent meetings to share positives, in a newsletter, etc.
- Invite parents to volunteer in a way that helps them understand how their special skills could help the agency.
- Don’t assume parents don’t want to be involved — ask; don’t say no for them.
- Schedule time to allow parents to brainstorm ideas to engage other parents in the program during parent, policy committee and policy council meetings.
- Set up a weekly or monthly process to contact parents to build/keep strong relationships — ask open-ended questions about how they are doing; ask what the agency could do better to help them feel more engaged with (a part of) the organization.
- Discover ways to share parent/child successes in staff/team meetings.
- Set up checkpoints throughout your day/prior to meeting with parents to ramp up your excitement/engagement level.
- Offer the history of the program and your organization to parents — help them to feel a part of that history.
- Create exciting bulletin boards celebrating family nights, parent trainings, outings, etc.
- Check in with all parents, no matter how much interaction they have with the program — exclude no one.
Let these examples start conversations in your agency. And if you have more, please share them. We will add them to future lists!
Wishing you a wonderful day,
Tammy Jelinek has over 20 years of experience in working in and with grant-funded and fee-for-services nonprofit organizations. She has trained nationally in the areas of OMB Uniform Guidance, Head Start/Early Head Start Act and program performance standards, parent/volunteer involvement and more. And Tammy has a passion for helping programs help the families they serve! Learn more at wipfli.com/ngp.
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