Family and Community Engagement

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About this Competency

This competency area addresses early childhood educator competencies related to the role of the family in the care and education of the child, and the role of the community in providing resources and services to children, their families, and programs. It encompasses the knowledge, skills, and dispositions required to respond appropriately to all aspects of family diversity — such as race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, culture, family composition, religion, age, ability, and home language. Additionally, this competency area includes the ability to garner community support on behalf of children and families, whether at the local-program level or in the broader public realm (e.g., with other community resources and in school systems).

Key concepts include acknowledgment that children develop in the context of families and communities and that building relationships with families is an integral part of competent and professional early childhood practice. As such, this competency area is related to other competency areas, especially Culture, Diversity, and Equity; Dual-Language Development; and Child Development and Learning.

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Watch the Video Overview for this Competency

California Early Childhood Educator Competencies

California Early Childhood Educator Competencies Wheel

Framing Questions

Framing questions identify some of the major themes in this competency. They provide you with a starting point. As you explore this competency, add your own framing questions for issues you want to further examine.

  • What does family engagement mean to you and how does your understanding compare to what it means to your families?
  • What does community engagement mean to you and how does your understanding compare to what it means to your families?
  • How do all members benefit from inviting families into a shared learning community?
  • How does building relationships with families and your community impact children's identity development?


Keep these dispositions in mind as you explore the Framing Questions. If you mindfully adopt these dispositions, you will realize the Desired Outcomes for Practitioners and for Children.

  • Values families as the first and primary teachers of their child(ren).
  • Values family engagement in early childhood settings.
  • Communicates openly and respectfully with families while ensuring confidentiality.
  • Appreciates that individuals cannot be understood in isolation from one another — rather, that each operates within the interrelationships of his or her family and community.
  • Respects families’ strengths, efforts, and potential.
  • Values the opportunity to communicate with and learn from families to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of each child.

Desired Outcomes for practitioners

If I have these dispositions, then I will…

  • become more flexible in defining family engagement and negotiating with families.
  • strengthen relationships with families in support of the child's identity formation and social development.
  • engage in two-way communication, power-sharing, and decision-making with families.
  • be part of a learning community that includes colleagues, children, and families.
  • recognize myself, and be recognized as a professional with a complex role, responsibilities and limitations.

Desired Outcomes for Children

If teachers and caregivers have these dispositions, then children will…

  • notice that their teachers and their families like each other.
  • have pride in their families.
  • be known and appreciated for who they are.
  • see their families appreciated for who they are.
  • be able to learn and grow here.

Keys to Reflection and Inquiry

The CompSAT Keys to Reflection and Inquiry offer you a protocol to use in whatever setting you work as an early childhood educator. Learn how you can integrate the six Keys into your work. Select one of the Keys below to practice reflecting with questions related to the competency area of Family and Community Engagement.


Choose from one of the Keys below to view additional information related to this Competency!

Build Your Portfolio

Presentation tools help you organize and display your documentation.

Portfolio screenshot

Nan developed a portfolio segment on her Family Cooking Experience for the Family and Community Engagement Competency. She used a presentation tool to organize and creatively display her learning. Notice how she framed her questions, asked herself finer-grained questions that sprang from them, moved to action, outlined her story with prompts, documented her work, reflected on her learning, and made connections for growth.

View the Portfolio Sample

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