How do early childhood education programs meet the challenge of engaging families in their child’s early learning and development? NAEYC’s Engaging Diverse Families (EDF) project sought answers to this question. The project's goals were to develop a research-based definition of family engagement, identify exemplary family engagement practices in early childhood programs, and share what was learned with the field of early care and education by assembling a tool kit of materials to help programs more effectively engage families in children’s early learning.
During an extensive review of the research on family engagement, NAEYC and Pre-K Now found that programs’ successful family engagement practices encompass the following six principles:
Note: As we’ve developed the content related to this project, the six principles of family engagement have evolved to highlight important elements, take out redundancy, and clarify meaning.
Using these six principles as the foundation, NAEYC set out to identify programs that effectively engage the families they serve. In early 2009, NAEYC invited early childhood education programs across the county to submit a written application. To ensure a high-quality baseline, eligible programs had to be NAEYC-Accredited and/or rated in the highest or second highest levels of a recognized statewide or pilot quality rating and improvement system (QRIS).
Of the 24 programs that submitted complete applications, 17 were selected to participate in phone interviews during June 2009, and 15 finalists moved on to receive a site visit by NAEYC staff. Site visits, which took place from October 2009 to January 2010, were guided by a standard written protocol. The site visit was intended to validate what the program had reported and to gather evidence of its family engagement practices. Each site visit included
The 15 programs NAEYC visited represent a range of program and funding types. Among these were Head Start programs, a lab school, two parent co-ops, a faith-based program, subsidized and private pay programs, one very large program (with 368 children), and a one-room schoolhouse (with 22 children). Each program serves families representing a variety of races, ethnicities and national origins, languages, religions, socioeconomic statuses, and family constellations (for example, single-parent, same-sex parent, blended, adoptive, grandparent-headed, and others). All 15 are NAEYC-Accredited; several also participate in their state’s QRIS.
Not surprisingly, the rubric NAEYC developed to evaluate these programs revealed that all 15 programs are of very high quality with a strong commitment to supporting and honoring family engagement. Overall, NAEYC found that these programs have a vision shared by staff and families. In April 2010, after a careful review of the wealth of materials from each program, NAEYC identified the following 10 programs as exemplary in their family engagement practices:
In addition, five programs were recognized for noteworthy family engagement accomplishments:
NAEYC’s 2008–10 efforts were supported by a generous grant from the Picower Foundation. Pre-K Now engaged in a sister project that explored state-level policies to encourage and enhance family engagement as a critical component of high-quality pre-K. An advisory committee jointly convened with Pre-K Now in February 2009 provided initial guidance for the project.
Developed for NAEYC's Engaging Diverse Families Project through a generous grant from the Picower Foundation.
|Principles of Effective Practice|
|Tools & Resources|
|About Engaging Diverse Families|