Policy Resource

Community Engagement and Public Awareness in Early Childhood Systems

Nov 4, 2016

Definition: Building a constituency to support investment in a system of services for young children and their families. Decisions about policies and practices are informed by and responsive to the needs and interests of a broad array of stakeholders.


  • Include community members in the design and implementation of services to ensure they are culturally relevant and representative of the community
  • Create opportunities for community partners to learn about one another and cultivate increased understanding and awareness
  • Develop common messaging for home visiting programs to educate the public and policymakers about the importance of home visiting as part of a continuum of supports for young children and families
  • Engage in advocacy at the state and national levels to expand and enhance home visiting


Kansas developed the Cultural Awareness, Respect, and Engagement (C.A.R.E.) Toolkit to help home visitors and other early childhood professionals engage diverse populations and improve practice in cross-cultural settings.

  • The toolkit was developed through a partnership between the Kansas Department of Health and the Environment, MIECHV (Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting) and LAUNCH (Linking Actions for Unmet Needs in Children’s Health) programs, and University of Kansas Center for Public Partnerships and Research.
  • The toolkit features a variety of resources that demonstrate the importance of understanding culture and its impact on practice.
  • The toolkit is broken into three sections:
    • Webcasts–eight modules ranging from introductory overviews to detailed explanations of different cultural concepts.
    • Working With Specific Populations–interactive webpages featuring resources for specific cultures including Iraqi, Somali, and Burmese.
    • Resources–links to additional resources on topics such as working with refugees and becoming culturally competent.

Pueblo of San Felipe

Pueblo of San Felipe implemented the “Katishtya TELI (Tribal Early Learning Initiative) Fall Festival.”

  • TELI partners jointly sponsored the annual “Katishtya TELI Fall Festival” celebration of young children and families in the community for the last 3 years.
  • Up to 700 people attended.

Great Plains

Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Health Board of South Dakota implemented the First 1,000 Days Initiative Maternal and Child Health Resiliency Conference.

  • It was held in an effort to bring partners together to learn about the issues important to them.

Cherokee Nation

Cherokee Nation declared the month of May as “National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Month.”

  • In May 2015, Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker signed a proclamation declaring the month of May as “National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Month” as a result of the work of the HERO (Helping Everyone Reach Out) Project.

Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma

Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma celebrated the nationally recognized “Day of the Young Child” in April, by formalizing their TELI partnership at the event.

South Dakota

In South Dakota, home visiting and Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems (ECCS) programs support communities in using the ZERO TO THREE Community Planning Tool and provide technical assistance to Community Advisory Boards in implementing improvement plans. Home visiting staff are active partners in the First 1,000 Days Initiative Interagency Forum of the Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Health Board, focused on creating a trauma-informed system of care.

Rhode Island

Rhode Island markets its home visiting program with a “Love That Baby” slogan.

  • The website includes information targeted to families and to referral sources, as well as videos of family testimonials.
  • More information about the program is available by texting “baby” or calling a phone number.


Arkansas’ Home Visiting Network uses the tag line “Stronger Families. Brighter Futures.” to describe its mission.

  • The Network’s mission is “devoting resources necessary to build healthier, happier and more productive families by focusing on enhancing parenting skills.”


Illinois created public service announcements, printed materials, and a website to brand home visiting and assist referral partners and families in connecting with home visiting programs.

  • MIECHV funders put money into public awareness and created the IGrowIL website to help families find a home visiting program.
  • Although Illinois doesn’t have statewide coordinated intake, some communities have created local IGrow websites to handle intake and referrals.


Ohio increased visibility for its home visiting program through social media.

  • The MIECHV team developed a home visiting communications strategy, including policies to guide use of social media and define the target audience.
  • The Ohio Help Me Grow Facebook page, created in 2013, is used to communicate with providers and referral sources, as well as to share tips with parents.
  • Home visitors can note in the data system whether families want to receive appointment reminders via text message.

West Virginia

West Virginia is engaging in a Positive Community Norms process to change the public’s perception that home visiting is only for at-risk families.

  • West Virginia is using Positive Community Norms to create materials and messaging and change the perception of home visiting.
  • Packets for providers with information on individual programs were developed with messages based on results of a provider survey.
  • West Virginia also surveyed parents. They found support for home visiting but a perception that home visiting is only for at-risk families. They are working to change the norm to an understanding that home visiting is for everyone.


Florida early childhood advocates, including home visiting programs, formed a First 1000 Days Florida coalition to raise awareness and build support for investing in families with children age 0-3.

  • The First 1000 Days Florida coalition sponsored the first state’s first multisector conference (maternal and child health, prevention of abuse and neglect, and school readiness) and adopted a common platform outlining public policy recommendations.
  • They recently revised the website and created collateral material targeting specific constituencies, including the business community.


Home visitors in Missouri connect legislators to programs so they can learn more about home visiting.


Washington’s Home Visiting Coalition holds legislative hearings to present progress on home visiting and have parents share their stories. The state also has 10 early learning regional councils that engage community members in developing local strategic plans for early childhood services, including coordination of home visiting services.

  • The Home Visiting Coalition mobilizes resources at state and national levels to hold hearings, take legislators and legislative staff members on home visits, and develop annual one-pagers.
  • The 10 early learning regional coalitions engage community members to decide how services should be implemented and provide feedback to state systems leaders on service gaps and policy barriers to service coordination and delivery.

New York

New York developed palm cards, infographics and a mapping tool to educate state policymakers about the benefits of home visiting and the need for increased investment. Using data from the mapping project, the Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy developed home visiting county data snapshots for every county in the state.

  • The Home Visiting Workgroup developed the advocacy materials. The palmcards include personal stories from home visiting programs and the infographics highlight home visiting programs and outcomes.
  • The Workgroup and the New York State Council on Children and Families collaborated to develop the interactive mapping tool to show where programs operate, the number of slots available, and data on poverty organized by legislative and congressional districts.