Strategies to Retain and Encourage Participation (2)
Even Start projects must encourage families to attend regularly and remain in the program a sufficient amount of time to meet their program goals. Many Even Start participants need to remain in the program for one to two years to achieve significant learning goals, make improvements in parenting skills, and increase their self-sufficiency. Following is a list of possible strategies to implement in strengthening retention:
- Design a period of preparation for families enrolled in the program. (See section Q2-3)
- Have written policies on enrollment, attendance, and continuing eligibility combined with strategies to deal with family crises and barriers.
- Have written exit policies for circumstances such as attainment of goals, leave of absence, absenteeism, and unacceptable behavior.
- Provide continuous services during the entire year including the summer months.
- Provide referrals to appropriate agencies to address some of the needs and interests of families.
- Align program schedule and curricula with families' individual needs and strengths. The staff may adjust services as necessary.
- Build collaborations with local social service agencies for additional resources in addressing the needs of families.
- Design activities to encourage the participation of the entire family.
- Showcase the success of current and past program participants to motivate or mentor existing families.
- Refer to numerous information sources (local evaluation, ES-STAR, participant evaluations) to track patterns of retention and continuously assess program services.
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