January 21, 2014
The OCDEL Family Engagement Pilot Project eNews

Keeping you up-to-date with what's happening in regards to the OCDEL Family Engagement Pilot Project--upcoming opportunities, accomplishments, and resources you can use! 
Of Interest   
Engaging Families through Transition to Kindergarten
This time of year, many schools are hosting Kindergarten Registrations. What may be the first interaction between incoming Kindergarten student, their family, and the elementary school can be  a prime opportunity to establish long-lasting relationships that will set the child, and his or her family, on a path of school success.
One key to this success can be establishing clear communications between the family, the school, and the child's early learning program or provider. These communications should go beyond providing basic information, but be used to help everyone understand the role they play in the child's school success and what supports the child will need to successfully transition into Kindergarten.
The PA Office of Child Development and Early Learning and the Pennsylvania Key have available resources to support schools, families and early learning programs and providers from the initial contact with a family and their community, through the process of sharing information between family, early learning program or providers, and the child's school.
Find information at the PA Key website to support
  • Kindergarten Registration
  • School District and Early Learning Transitions
  • School Readiness
  • Transition into Formal Schooling

Find Kindergarten Registration dates and information on the PA's Promise for Children website (just click on your county), or submit information for schools in your community by sending details to Mary Hall at marhal@berksiu.org.





Podcast: How Do We Increase Involvement Among Parents Who Are Already Overwhelmed?


 Larry Ferlazzo, with Darcy Hutchins and Mai Xi Lee. Among the demands of work, family and finance many parents are stretched to their limits. How can we achieve more involvement from this group of parents? Listen to the seven-minute podcast.



Helping You Educate Families with Bi-Weekly Family Messages


Now available are bi-weekly Early Childhood Information & Resource Messages! These 250 or less word messages highlight information and resources families want and need to know throughout the year to help their child prepare for and be successful in school. They contain information that families ask most about when it comes to their children's development, such as developmental milestones and preparing their child for kindergarten, health and safety tips, dealing with challenging behaviors, choosing the right child care/early learning program for their family, and financial assistance to help pay for it.


Include the messages in an organization, or program newsletter; on a poster, brochure or flyer; or on an organization, or program's website. Although the messages are organized by month, many can be used any time of the year.


Visit the PA Key website (in the Tools for Educating and Engaging Families section) to access the Early Childhood Information & Resource Messages.

Team Updates:  


The Family Engagement Pilot Community Teams have all been steadily working to build their teams, complete their self-assessments and develop action plans. Collectively, the teams have increased their partners by 24 individuals representing the roles of: family members, home visiting programs, head start, early childhood mental health, children and youth, early intervention, faith community leaders, libraries, child care information services, public officials and business leaders.  


One of the largest areas of growth has been the recruitment of family members to the community teams.


All of the teams completed their self-assessment process. The discussion and information gathered through that process has been utilized by all of the teams to inform their work moving forward. Individual teams determined how they would do this. One team developed a shortened document that highlighted some key information from the self-assessment process that was shared with all of the team members (including those that were not available to participate in the self-assessment process). One team recognized the need to recruit additional family leaders to their work and turned to a program that has been operating in a different location Elwyn Parent Partners to learn from them and start their own Parent Partner program.


All teams had follow up conversation and discussions as a group to discuss the self-assessment and begin their action planning.


Family Engagement Pilot Community Teams have been working on developing and finalizing their action plans. As a Pilot Group, action plans will be focused on six of the areas identified in the Pa Family Engagement Crosswalk: families are supported in times of need; families have the support and information they need to encourage their child's learning and development; family members have support from other families; families have goals of their own and benefit from having supportive partners to reach their goals; families grow in leadership and utilize these skills in many different ways; families are supported in times of transition.


All teams will be planning action steps around supporting families to have the support and information they need to encourage their child's learning and development. In addition,

 All teams are building stronger relationship with their local school districts to support transition.


OCDEL and the PA key have supported the work of the teams through: development of the self-assessment tool and process and facilitation of the teams completion of the process. Individualized support through phone calls and resource sharing at the teams request. Monthly conference call have also been a time for teams to share and network with each other, with a focus on successful strategies and resources.

Questions about the OCDEL Family Engagment Pilot Project? Contact us!
Sarah Holland at saholland@pa.gov
 or 717.787.8691
Christine Behm at cbehm@pa.gov
or 717.214.5704
Mary Hall at marhal@berksiu.org
or 717.213.2077