The YOU Program and Head Start: A Great Match

By Jessica Vician

For many people, it’s easy to become a parent. It’s more difficult to become a good parent who knows how to nurture each of their child’s needs to help him or her succeed. It’s even harder when the parent lacks the financial means to enlist quality support.

Early Head Start and Head Start programs provide that support to help these parents and their children receive quality education and services that give them the opportunities to succeed.

Head Start is a program that has helped over 32 million children and families prepare for school and life, according to the National Head Start Association (NHSA). The program provides children—regardless of their financial circumstances at birth—with education, health, parent involvement, and social services to help them and their families prepare for school and life.

Similarly, the YOU Program is dedicated to providing parents with the knowledge and tools needed to nurture a child’s four core developmental areas—physical health, social well-being, emotional well-being, and academic achievement—in order to succeed in school and in life.

The commitment of both programs to a child’s overall wellness and success ensures a unique and strong partnership that aids Early Head Start and Head Start centers in reaching their family engagement outcomes and in meeting the new Head Start Performance Standards. 

YOU Program Parent Workshops offer Head Start parents encouragement, parenting strategies, activities, and resources in the four core parenting domains. A recent study conducted by the University of Chicago indicates a strong alignment between the YOU Program and the tools Head Start centers need to reach their family engagement outcomes.

For example, as noted in this study, Head Start parents who attended YOU Program Parent Workshops reported a strong alignment between their interactions with their children and the lessons learned in the YOU Program Parent Workshops. These interactions include investing in quality time, healthy eating, good sleep habits, following directions, and more.

What make these findings even more valuable is that parents with one child reported a larger increase in positive interactions with their children than parents with more than one child, suggesting that Head Start programs should aim to reach first-time parents quickly so that the best practices taught in YOU Program Parent Workshops stay with the parents as they have more children. Of course, parents of more than one child still strongly benefit from the YOU Program lessons, just at a slightly lower level than parents with only one child.

How can your Head Start center reap these family engagement benefits?
Since the YOU Program is closely aligned with Head Start—particularly the emphasis on family engagement and school readiness (Head Start Parent and Family Engagement Framework)—it is designed to help Head Start centers begin meeting the following new Head Start Performance Standards right away by creating a comprehensive parent engagement strategy to be implemented at your center:

  • Head Start Performance Standard 1302.50–Family Engagement
  • Head Start Performance Standard 1302.51–Parent activities to promote child learning and development
  • Head Start Performance Standard1302.52–Family partnership services
  • Head Start Performance Standard 1302.53–Community partnership and coordination with other early childhood and education programs
  • Head Start Performance Standard 1302.92–Training and professional development

The YOU Program has trained over 5,000 parents, as well as provided professional development workshops for teachers and staff in effective parent engagement techniques that help students achieve more in school and in life. As the University of Chicago study demonstrates, Head Start parents particularly benefit from the program as they learn parent engagement strategies that help their children become ready and eager to learn. Contact us today to learn how we can help your center.