Partnering with families is at the heart of the Growing Great Kids Curriculum. Today’s Great Vine blog is devoted to one of the most important and useful modules for Partnering with families---Successes and Next Steps. We will review this module’s design and structure, content, and how to use with families to enhance our partnering relationship with them. We will also discuss literature around partnering with families, the power of acknowledgment, and the reflective component of our conversations with parents. Finally, we’ll conclude with a brief discussion on how to grow home visiting partnership skills during supervision.
Each quarter, parents and home visitors complete the Successes and Next Steps module along with the GGK Tool. This quarterly review offers families the opportunity to reflect on their parenting skill building process, the knowledge they have gained around child development, family functioning, and protective factors. It also gives them a chance to think about how they are practicing their new skills to support their family and grow their personal successes. The Successes and Next Steps
conversation guide and The GGK Tool provide a structured format for home visitors to acknowledge family members for their accomplishments and to explore new interests and skills they would like to grow over the next three months.
The Successes and Next Steps conversation guide and The GGK Tool are intentionally crafted to support in-depth conversations around growing skills related to each Daily Do. This also provides the opportunity to reflect on child development screening findings, parents’ management of family sufficiency, expanded life skills, while reviewing progress on family goals. Through this reflective process, home visitors and families determine how they wish to use the Growing Great Kids Curriculum Components during the next quarter.
Now let’s spend a few minutes reviewing the research behind this essential GGK curricula component. Partnering with families has different names; in health care, it is referred to as family centered; in mental health, family driven; and in social work, relationship based. Regardless of the name, these concepts share the following core principle as professionals intentionally partner with families: (1) seeking family input, (2) viewing the family as the primary expert on the child, and (3) responding to family concerns and needs in a strength-based manner that incorporates the philosophical, cultural, values, and unique needs of the family and individual (Goldfarb et.al, 2010).
This approach is about understanding that each family may need information presented in a different way, and with a different frequency. It is only through a team effort that you and the family can evaluate options and decide together what will work best in each situation, with a genuine willingness to listen and learn about the family’s motivation(s) for growth. The Successes and Next Steps conversation guide, to be used every 3 months with families, encourages parents to be active participants and decision makers in determining “how” and “what” pieces of the GGK Curriculum would be most beneficial to them. This is also a great time to talk about the pacing that would be right for them during the next three months.
Another important component of connecting with families is incorporating acknowledgment and recognition in our conversations with them. Taking the time to acknowledge others is about making a meaningful impact on a human being. A few genuine words of acknowledgment and recognition brightens anyone’s day, but most importantly it can translate into increased motivation, higher self-esteem, and more confidence in taking on new challenges (Forbes.com 2013). The Successes and Next Steps module is about acknowledging parents’ successes by pointing out specific accomplishments through the 3-step Accentuating the Positive (ATP) Action Tool during the conversation. This practice reinforces the home visitor-parent relationship. As parents see that their efforts are being noticed and appreciated they not only feel proud of themselves as individuals and parents BUT ALSO, strengthen their commitment to the partnership with their home visitor.
Partnering with families, as well as offering ATPs, requires reflection on the part of the home visitor. It is important to reflect on what personal and professional experiences, values, and feelings are supporting you, as a home visitor, in building a healthier professional relationship with family members and/or what is getting in the way of having positive interactions with them. This practice will only be true and relevant when you can be fully present and connected during your interactions with families. The Successes and Next Steps module also provides insights for the home visitor’s areas of growth as new GGK topics are explored with each family.
We will wrap up our discussion with encouraging the use of the supervision process to continue growing your partnership skills with families. Supervision is the ideal place to discuss how you feel about your relationships with families, specific concerns, and how to support families through active partnership as they find solutions to their problems. Remember… your role as a home visitor is to partner with families as they make informed decisions. It is their journey!
Goldfarb, F. D., Devine, Kl, Yingling, J.T., Hill, A., Moss, J., Ogburn, E.S., & Pariseau, C. (2010). Partnering with Professionals: Family-Centered Care from the Parent Perspective. Journal of Family Social Work, 13(2), 91-99. DOI: 10.1080/10522150903487081.
Forbes.com (2013). Leadership: Feeling Appreciated? Why It Can Make All the Difference by Margie Warrell. Published online on 5/16/2013. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/margiewarrell/2013/05/16/feeling-appreciated-why-it-can-make-all-the-difference/#7514886b76a5