Getting Ready: Engaging Families in Early Childhood Programs

by Lisa Knoche and Amanda Prokasky
for the Preschool Development Grant eNewsletter – July 2019

What is Getting Ready?

Getting Ready is an evidence-based intervention developed at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln aimed at enhancing the school readiness of young children birth to age five. It focuses on strengthening relationships in children’s lives, including relationships between parents, their young children, and the early childhood professionals connected to the family.

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The Getting Ready intervention is a process of interacting with families used by early childhood professionals that occurs during all exchanges with them (e.g., home visits, conferences, informal interactions, messages, drop off, pick up). It builds on culturally relevant family and child strengths. It is not a curriculum or a packaged, stand-alone program, but rather an approach for infusing meaningful parent engagement into all aspects of the natural early childhood environment. It is appropriate for all early childhood programs, including home- and center-based settings serving children birth through five years.

Getting Ready is a “way of doing business” with families and is defined by eight strategies and a collaborative structure used to guide all parent contacts. When professionals use them together, the strategies and structure work to encourage a true partnership between parents and professionals defined by shared decision-making and collaboration.

One professional shared, “It taught me how to make those home visits more meaningful. To not have a set opinion for what was going to happen, but to go in there, learn how to listen, learn how to let the parent take the lead sometimes, to do the dance together.” Another professional spoke about the benefits of Getting Ready for parents in “gaining confidence…we’re showing parents they’re teachers too…and that’s what we want, because we only have them for a short time but they have them for forever. So if we can teach them to be teachers and advocates for their children then the benefits are endless.”

Getting Ready is effective at improving children’s developmental outcomes and responsive parenting behaviors as demonstrated through randomized trials of the intervention in state-funded preschool programs, Head Start and Early Head Start programs. Getting Ready has been adopted as the quality home visiting approach used in NDE Part C Services for infants/toddlers with disabilities.

What are we doing in the state?

We are excited to expand the impact of Getting Ready across the state as part of the Preschool Development Grant. We will begin training 75 professionals working in Head Start, Early Head Start and Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) programs in summer/fall of 2019. After an initial 1.5 day training, each professional will participate in three virtual coaching sessions with a Getting Ready coach whereby professionals submit video samples of their work with families to reflect on and enhance their interactions with families. For additional information on Getting Ready, visit https://gettingready.unl.edu/site/contact or contact Dr. Lisa Knoche, UNL Research Associate Professor at lknoche2@unl.edu.

Nebraska Children and Families Foundation supports children, young adults and families at risk with the overall goal of giving our state's most vulnerable kids what they need to reach their full potential. We do this by building strong communities that support families so their children can grow up to be thriving, productive adults.

Posted in Early Childhood

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