Parent Involvement In Pre School Head Start Setting

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Parent Involvement in Pre School Head Start Setting

Parent Involvement in Pre School Head Start Setting


Recognizing the importance and need for a quality early childhood education, the federal government established Head Start in 1965 to provide low-income children and their families with a comprehensive range of services, including early childhood education; medical, dental, and mental health; nutrition; and parent involvement (Slaughter-Defoe, Brown, 2008). In 1994, through the reauthorization of Head Start program, Congress established Early Head Start, which extends services from birth to three years, and includes assistance for pregnant women.

The Early Head Start Program Model

The Early Head Start program model is built on a framework encompassing four cornerstones to ensure best practices in delivering services to infants and toddlers and their families. These cornerstones include child development, family development, community building, and staff development. Within the cornerstone of child development, which includes child care services, program design incorporates many objectives related to quality child care (National Center for Children in Poverty, 2006). Specifically incorporated are the objectives of positive child health and development, education and early childhood development, child health and safety, good nutrition, and good child mental health. Within the objective to promote positive child health and development is the identification of activities that will foster children's physical, cognitive, and socioemotional growth in a child care setting. Because of the infant/toddler age of the children enrolled in these programs, emotionally secure parent-child as well as child care provider-child relationships are seen as an integral component of fostering these areas of development (Gutman, McLoyd, 2008). Thus, in addition to developmentally appropriate early care and education services, parental supports are in place to build strong parent-infant emotional connections. Supports include activities such as center-or home-based parent education as well as parental involvement in the child care program.

Community building is a component of the Early Head Start framework that stems from ecological theory, which recognizes the important interaction between the individual and larger systems (Gresham, Elliott, 2007). For families with infants or toddlers and limited resources, the Early Head Start programs have aimed to increase access to resources in the community. The comprehensive nature of the program has been shown to be important to families with limited resources who have infants or toddlers.

Staff development is a last important cornerstone to the Early Head Start programs that is universally important to child care. Teachers with more advanced training and education are also more likely to understand and use developmentally appropriate practices in the classroom. In fact, it has been established that developmentally appropriate behaviors in child care staff will increase directly as the number of hours of training received increases.

Parent Involvement

Parent involvement targets parents with children from infancy to preschoolers, as well as primary-school-aged children and teenagers. Parent involvement may be universal, aimed at the general population of parents, based on the belief that all parents can benefit by being involved in their children's lives. In many cases, it targets disadvantaged families with low incomes and low levels of education, ethnic ...