Essential Tips: Creating a Full Community Assessment

Tip #1:  Collect a wide variety of data.

There is a tremendous amount of data available.  Check sources such as the Census Bureau, State Data Centers, County Health Departments as well as local school districts and early intervention programs.  Surfing the Net, making phone calls and conducting surveys will yield a great deal of essential data.  Also remember that you have valuable internal programmatic information – your PIR, wait list and annual report, just to name a few.

Tip #2:  Look for trends.

When you are collecting current data, also gather information from recent years.  This will give you an opportunity to compare data.  By aggregating and analyzing the information, you will be able to identify trends.  These trends will provide you with key information to make critical programmatic decisions. Having current and complete information allows leaders to make strategic decisions regarding the direction of their program.

Tip #3:  Create a user-friendly format.

Be sure that your community assessment is a document that is easy to read.  It should also be user-friendly so that you can find needed information quickly.  Include a combination of graphs and charts as well as text.  With each graph, add a “Key Finding” that describes the data.  After each major section, include a “Highlights and Considerations” section that summarizes the key information.

If you need help creating a Community Assessment, give us a call at (704) 451-3255 or email us at to discuss your needs.

Championing the Staff Who Serve Our Youngest

It’s essential to provide specialized professional development for the teaching staff who serve our infants and toddlers.  Whether you were recently awarded an Early Head Start/Child Care Partnerships grant or have had an Early Head Start program for years, providing effective training for your Early Head Start Teachers and Home Visitors is critical.

We’ve found that successful training in this area includes the following 3 points:

Offer a multitude of training topics.  Best practices in serving infants and toddlers includes providing professional development opportunities for your teaching and home visiting staff on all aspects of infant and toddler development.  These topics include:

  • Developing language in infants and toddlers
  • Supporting the individual needs of infants and toddlers
  • Managing challenging behaviors in infants and toddlers
  • Fostering the social/emotional development in infants and toddlers
  • Facilitating learning in infants and toddlers

Consider your child care partners when planning trainings.  If you have new child care partners, think about providing training such as “The ABCs of Head Start: Learning the Rules and Regulations of Head Start.”  It’s important that your child care partners know what is expected of them.  Provide training to your staff on program monitoring. Conducting ongoing monitoring activities to child care partners is a key piece to the success of your program.

Utilize a “learning by doing” training model.  Provide training that is highly interactive and engaging.  Include a lot of small group activities, role plays, question and answer sessions and interactive exercises.  Design training that is based on the principles of adult learning.  This will result in high impact learning in which training participants can take back the information that they learned and implement it immediately.

Looking for highly interactive training for your Early Head Start teaching and home visiting staff? Give us a call at (704) 451-3255 or email us at

The Parent, Family and Community Engagement (PFCE) Framework

Creating Your Program’s Family Engagement Plan

Family participation is a powerful predictor of positive child outcomes and it directly impacts children’s school readiness.  The PFCE framework is a road map to create a comprehensive family engagement plan that will lead to positive outcomes for children and families.

Consider these items when creating your program’s family engagement plan:

1. Use the PFCE framework as the foundation of your family engagement plan.  It’s important to take a systemic and integrated approach to family engagement.  This is organized in the PFCE framework through:

  • Program foundations
    • Program leadership
    • Continuous program improvement
    • Professional development
  • Program impact areas
    • Program environment
    • Family partnerships
    • Teaching & learning
    • Community partnerships
  • Family engagement outcomes
    • Family well-being
    • Positive parent/child relationships
    • Families as lifelong educators
    • Families as learners
    • Family Engagement in transitions
    • Family connections to peers and communities
    • Families as advocates & leaders

2. Do a family engagement self-assessment.  Review and assess the family engagement that currently exists in your program.  What do you do well?  What can be improved?  Also consider these questions:

  • How do we partner with parents?
  • How do we offer parents opportunities to share observations of their child with us?
  • How do we empower parents as their child’s first and most important teacher?

3. Include a plan to measure family engagement.  When creating your family engagement plan, establish how each family engagement strategy will be measured.  In addition to strategies, expected results, timelines, persons responsible and needed resources, a plan to measure progress is essential.  In order to document progress, it’s critical to establish a measurement tool for each family engagement outcome.  This will be valuable information when reviewing and revising your family engagement plan – as well as for data-driven decision making.

Looking for training on the PFCE framework and family engagement? Give us a call at (704) 451-3255 or email us at