Expand the scope and reach of parent education or home visitation programs
Parents need accurate and accessible information that helps them support their children’s healthy development and lay the foundation for early learning. In many instances, they also need guidance in choosing quality caregivers and accessing community resources. If a parenting education program already exists, city officials can consider whether municipal leadership is needed to ensure that the program specifically addresses the needs of parents with young children and whether parent access can be improved through the provision of child care or transportation services. Municipal leaders can also support the expansion of parent education and home visitation programs (such as the evidence-based Nurse-Family Partnership Program) through supplemental city funding and in-kind assistance such as low- or no-cost leases on city-owned office and meeting space.
Collaborate with schools and health providers to promote developmental screenings
Medical professionals and educators use developmental screenings to determine whether children have undetected health problems or significant developmental delays. When these issues go unrecognized, as happens far too often in low-income communities, families miss out on opportunities for early intervention and children are much less likely to enter kindergarten ready to learn and succeed in school. City leaders can partner with medical professionals, school administrators, and community partners to provide screenings that detect vision, hearing and dental problems as well as developmental or behavioral challenges such as delayed language acquisition, autism or other potential barriers to future learning.
Create family resource centers or early learning hubs
Particularly in high-need neighborhoods, parents often lack inviting places where they can go to get information and support in rearing and educating their children. Family resource centers can offer information on child health and development, bolster parenting skills, increase parent engagement, and coordinate access to community services and key supports for families. Early learning hubs have an even strong focus on early learning, offering parent education programs, lending libraries of materials for parents and children to use at home, consultations with early childhood specialists, and parent support groups. Parent leadership training programs can also generate large dividends in greater parent and family engagement in schools, neighborhoods and communities.