Family Engagement

ECD believes that families are children’s first, longest lasting, and most important teachers, advocates, and nurturers and truly radical family engagement can change the landscape of education and early childhood systems. In order to create that change, ECD is committed to working with our partners to develop and support the implementation of radical family engagement across the country.

About Early Childhood Family Engagement

Strong family engagement is central in promoting children's healthy development and wellness, including:

  • social-emotional and behavioral development;
  • preparing children for school;
  • seamlessly transitioning them to kindergarten; and
  • supporting academic achievement in elementary school and beyond.

Families are children’s first, longest lasting, and most important teachers, advocates, and nurturers. Positive parenting and strong family engagement is central-- not supplemental-- to promoting children’s healthy development and wellness. This includes social-emotional and behavioral development; preparing children for school; seamlessly transitioning them to kindergarten; and supporting academic achievement in elementary school and beyond. Families’ engagement in children’s learning at home and in early care and education programs can impact lifelong health, developmental and academic outcomes.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of Education (ED) released a Guidance Document on Family Engagement (PDF) Visit disclaimer page  from the early years to the early grades. The guidance document:

  • Highlights the research that supports effective family engagement in children's learning, development and wellness;
  • Identifies core principles of effective family engagement practices from HHS' and ED's family engagement frameworks;
  • Provides recommendations to states, Local Education Agencies (LEAs), schools and community-based early childhood programs for implementing effective family engagement practices; and
  • Highlights resources for states, LEAs, schools, and early childhood program to build capacity to effectively partner with families.

What is Radical Family Engagement?

Radical family engagement must be driven by families, which are a child’s first and best teacher, embraces parents and families as partners in the whole system, and is unique to each community.

Radical family engagement has yet to be fully realized or embraced by K-12 and other systems serving children and families. We are at critical moment to bring public and private stakeholders together, with parents at the center, to learn, re-think, shift the current philosophy, and co-create a more meaningful system that is grounded in equity and radical family engagement.

In October 2020, ECD hosted a series of conversations with key cross-sector partners to bring new insights for how radical family engagement could change the landscape of education and early childhood systems, starting in the early years. For more information on the event, see the Radical Family Engagement Event page Visit disclaimer page . For a written summary of the Radical Family Engagement event, see ECD’s Journey Map

Federal Resources

Early care and education teachers and providers play a central role in partnering with families on their children’s learning and development. ACF is pleased to announce three new resources that can inform early childhood programs, networks, and States in their work to partner with and support families with young children using evidence-informed approaches:

Head Start Parent, Family, and Community Engagement Framework

Dual Capacity-Building Framework for Family and School Partnerships

 

For more resources on family engagement, please see this resource list (PDF) Visit disclaimer page .

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