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The Harvard Family Research Project separated from the Harvard Graduate School of Education to become the Global Family Research Project as of January 1, 2017. It is no longer affiliated with Harvard University.

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FINE Newsletter, Volume IV, Issue 1
Issue Topic: New Developments in Early Childhood Education

Family Involvement News

We at Harvard Family Research Project are committed to keeping you up to date on what's new in family engagement. This list of links to current reports, articles, events, and opportunities will help you stay on top of research and resources from HFRP and other field leaders.

New from Harvard Family Research Project

  • Afterschool Evaluation 101: How to Evaluate an Expanded Learning Program
    This new tool is a how-to guide for conducting an evaluation. It is designed to help out-of-school time program directors, with little or no evaluation experience, develop an evaluation strategy—to both guide continuous improvement efforts and satisfy funders' requirements. The guide explains the early planning stages, helps select evaluation design and data collection methods, and helps analyze the data and present the results.
  • Family Engagement in Early Childhood: A Resource Guide for Early Learning Challenge Grant Recipients
    HFRP produced this selective list of resources about engaging and supporting families with young children to help support Race to the Top—Early Learning Challenge grant-winning states. This list of journal articles, practical guides, webinars, and presentations will also be useful to other states, districts, and early childhood programs interested in expanding their family engagement work.
  • Teaching Cases on Family Engagement: Early Learning (Ages 0–8)
    HFRP's teaching cases involve real-world situations and consider the perspectives of various stakeholders, including early childhood program and elementary school staff, parents, children, and community members. This handout provides a detailed list of our teaching cases on family involvement, focusing on the earlier years of a child's learning and development.
  • Family Engagement for High School Success Toolkit Webinar Series
    This two-part webinar series introduces the main themes of the Family Engagement for High School Success Toolkit <link to toolkit> and explores the central components of planning and implementing family engagement strategies for at-risk high school students. Presenters include representatives from the local United Way pilot sites profiled in the Toolkit, who discuss their experiences developing and implementing their family engagement strategies. The webinars took place in December 2011, but archived recordings of the presentation are now available online here.
  • Bringing Families to the Table: Recommendations and Next Steps from the National Policy Forum for Family, School, and Community Engagement
    This report by HFRP looks back at the U.S. Department of Education’s National Policy Forum on Family, School, and Community Engagement, and offers a set of next steps, including specific program and policy recommendations for deepening family engagement in education.
  • Using the Head Start Parent, Family, and Community Engagement Framework in Your Program: Markers of Progress (PDF)
    This resource from the National Center on Parent, Family, and Community Engagement (of which HFRP is a part) helps early childhood programs to recognize their accomplishments in engaging parents, families, and the community, and to identify areas of their work that can be strengthened. While it was designed for Head Start and Early Head Start programs, this resource can be useful to a broader audience of early childhood programs.

Articles and Reports

Early Childhood—Evaluation and Research

  • Technology and Interactive Media as Tools in Early Childhood Programs Serving Children from Birth through Age 8
    This joint position statement, issued by the National Association for the Education of Young Children and the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media at Saint Vincent College, provides important new guidance to early childhood programs on the effective use of media and technology.
  • Study: Head Start Programs May Increase Parents' Involvement
    This Education Week blog post presents the findings of a study from the University of Pennsylvania, which finds that enrollment in Head Start programs may increase parent involvement, specifically in ways that are most likely to impact children’s development.
  • When the Bough Breaks: The Effects of Homelessness in Early Childhood
    This report from Child Trends explores the benefits of early childhood education programs, such as Head Start, for homeless youth. The authors suggest that the stability and routine provided by these programs is particularly important for children who may otherwise lack consistency in their daily lives.
  • Family–Provider Relationships: A Multidisciplinary Review of High Quality Practices and Associations with Family, Child, and Provider Outcomes
    This brief from the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation presents a multi-disciplinary literature review of best practices in early childhood care family–provider relationships. In addition to providing a synthesis of successful practices in building positive family–provider relationships, the brief also examines how these practices impact outcomes for children, families, and providers. Based upon their research, the authors provide a framework for developing and growing successful family–provider partnerships.
  • Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS) and Family-Sensitive Caregiving in Early Care and Education Arrangements: Promising Directions and Challenges (PDF)
    This brief from the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation describes the challenges in measuring family engagement when calculating ratings of early childhood care and educational programs using the Quality Rating and Improvement Systems. While most states using QRIS incorporate family involvement into their provider ratings in some way, many face difficulties when attempting to link early childhood outcomes to family involvement given the limited research in this area. The authors discuss possible models of evaluation to assist states in evaluating the success of education providers in engaging families.
  • Family Engagement and Family-Sensitive Caregiving: Identifying Common Core Elements and Issues Related to Measurement (PDF)
    This brief from the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation provides a summary of the discussion and findings from the Family-Sensitive Caregiving and Family Engagement Working Meeting: Identifying and Measuring Common Core Elements that took place in June 2010. The authors identify several core elements common amongst early childhood care and education programs as well as issues related to measuring these elements.
  • Foundation for Child Development’s Dual-Generation Strategy
    The featured presentations and reports from the Foundation for Child Development emphasize the importance of a dual-generational strategy that addresses the educational needs of children during early childhood while also providing workforce development training to parents. Specific resources include a presentation from the Annual Research Conference of the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management (APPAM) entitled Investing in Children and Parents: Fostering Dual Generation Strategies in the United States.

Early Childhood—Resources

  • Countdown to Kindergarten Boston
    Designed to support families entering the Boston Public School (BPS) system as their children transition into kindergarten, this website hosts resources useful for both families and practitioners. While some resources are specific to BPS, the website also includes a number of general school readiness resources available in multiple languages.
  • Little Kids, Big Questions: A ZERO TO THREE Podcast Series for Parents on Early Childhood Development
    This podcast series from ZERO TO THREE provides parents with resources and answers to some of the most common questions about childhood development and caring for babies and toddlers, from dealing with emotional development to the influence of media on young minds.
  • The Pre-K Underground
    This New York Times article profiles families in New York City who developed “underground” pre-K alternatives when their children were turned away from programs in their area due to overcrowding.
  • Our Head Start
    The project by the Five Years Fund highlights the stories of the thousands of adults whose success in life began in a Head Start program. The website profiles former Head Start participants through video and written testimonials, and provides information about the power of quality early education and pre-K programs, especially for disadvantaged children.
  • Home Visiting: Connecting with Families Webcast
    This webcast by the Early Head Start National Resource Center discusses home visiting as a potential model for Head Start service delivery to help develop positive home learning environments for children. Important considerations and recommended strategies are provided for Head Start programs conducting home visits, rather than just providing services at a Head Start site. A viewers’ guide and additional home visit resources can also be downloaded from the Center site.

Early Childhood—Policy

Families and Out-of-School Time

  • Children of Latino Immigrants and Out-of-School Time Programs (PDF)
    This report addresses the need to engage children of Latino immigrant parents in out-of-school time activities. The authors also provide suggestions for attracting and retaining these children in programs, including involving their parents in the programs.
  • Children, Adults & the 'New Co-Viewing' via Digital Media Podcast
    This podcast investigates the potential of the informal learning opportunities that arise when children and their families explore digital media together, and asks: What strategies can families use to make the transition from simply watching together to interacting together?
  • Core Knowledge and Competencies for Afterschool and Youth Development Professionals
    This resource from the National Afterschool Association provides descriptions of the top 10 essential features of successful afterschool programs. Highlighted among these core competencies for out-of-school time providers is the development of successful relationships with families, schools, and communities.

School–Family Relationships

  • More Districts Sending Teachers into Students’ Homes
    This Education Week article discusses a growing movement toward schools’ use of teacher home visits as a family engagement method. The authors discuss the existing evidence of these programs’ effectiveness and provide examples of early efforts by several programs to collect data and document results.
  • What Are Parents Thinking?
    In this Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development’s (ACSD) Educational Leadership article, an elementary school principal shares his school’s strategies for family engagement and encourages teachers and administrators to incorporate parental feedback into their strategies for year-long parent engagement.
  • DPS Hires Detroit Parent Network, Which Helps Parents Learn to Help Their Kids
    This article highlights the Detroit Public Schools’ recent investment in the development of parental engagement plans through the Detroit Parent Network as part of its effort to improve educational experiences for all students. The article discusses the growth in parental demand for services, including those that educate families about technology use and homework help.
  • Title I Family Engagement in the Field: Partner with Parents to Transform Student Achievement
    This for-purchase resource provides tools for educators and administrators to develop a family and community engagement plan that connects to school improvement goals and meets Title I’s parental involvement requirements.
  • 'Parent Trigger' Laws Gain Traction, But Slowly
    In the two years since California developed the nation’s first Parent Trigger laws, which allow parents to mobilize support and advocate for new management of their children’s schools if they are dissatisfied, more states are looking to develop similar legislation. This article highlights the mixed views on the legislation: Proponents in Florida and Indiana believe that Parent Trigger laws hold promise for empowering parents in school reform efforts, while skeptics voice concerns about the impact these policies will actually have on long-term school quality.

Evaluation and Research

  • The Effect of Teacher–Family Communication on Student Engagement: Evidence from a Randomized Field Experiment (PDF)
    This study involving 6th and 9th grade students evaluates the effect of teachers’ communication with parents and students on student engagement. The authors discuss the specific areas of impact on student outcomes that can be attributed to increased teacher–family communication, while also differentiating between younger and older students’ responses to varied levels of family engagement. Drawing from their findings, the authors recommend concrete steps that schools and teachers can take to improve student achievement.
  • The School Community Journal – Fall/Winter 2011 (PDF)
    This issue of The School Community Journal features a number of articles—including "Families’ Goals, School Involvement, and Children’s Academic Achievement: A Follow-up Study Thirteen Years Later" and "Examining Preservice Teacher Knowledge and Competencies in Establishing Family-School Partnerships"—that discuss engaging families in student learning, profile best practices, and synthesize longitudinal data to help others replicate success.
  • Education Gap Grows Between Rich and Poor, Studies Say
    This article in the New York Times highlights emerging research on the growing achievement gaps between children from low- and high-income households, noting that while racial gaps appear to be narrowing in some places, studies show that income-based differences transcend race or ethnicity in predicting student outcomes. The author discusses access (or lack of access) to expensive afterschool programs and quality early educational experiences—particularly literacy-based experiences—as major contributors to income-based achievement gaps.


  • National Afterschool Association Convention (Dallas, TX: April 2–4, 2012)
    The National Afterschool Association’s 24th annual convention invites out-of-school time providers to engage in three days of professional development with organizations from across the country. Particularly of note is the core theme of “Leading Afterschool,” which will provide the opportunity for afterschool providers to engage in conversation and learning around success through family involvement and community partnerships.
  • Community Schools National Forum: Scaling Up School and Community Partnerships: The Community Schools Strategy (San Francisco, CA: May 9–12, 2012)
    This year’s Community Schools National Forum is aimed at growing school and community partnerships to improve outcomes for students. The participation of educators, community service providers, businesses, and government officials is encouraged.
  • The 16th Annual Birth to Three Institute (Office of Head Start/Early Head Start) (Washington, DC: June 11–14, 2012)
    The Birth To Three Institute provides a professional development opportunity for early childhood professionals and other organizations that serve pregnant women, infants, toddlers, and their families. The Institute’s goal is to share best practices among early childhood providers and encourage discussions around implications of new research in the field.
  • Advancing Student Learning with Family-School-Community Partnerships Webinar (March 29, 2012)
    This upcoming webinar, moderated by Anne Henderson and sponsored by the National Education Association, will discuss innovative partnership efforts designed to help students succeed. The webinar will be held on Thursday, March 29, at 4:00 p.m. (EST).

This resource is part of the March 2012 FINE Newsletter. The FINE Newsletter shares the newest and best family involvement research and resources from Harvard Family Research Project and other field leaders. To access the archive of past issues, please visit

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