Defining family engagement among Latino Head Start parents: A mixed-methods measurement development study

Christine M. McWayne, Gigliana Melzi, Adina R. Schick, Joy L. Kennedy, Kevin Mundt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Given the increasing numbers of Latino children and, specifically, of dual-language learning Latino children, entering the U.S. educational system, culturally contextualized models are needed to understand how parents construct their involvement roles and support their children's educational experiences. Current measures of parenting and family engagement have been developed primarily with European American families and, thus, might not capture engagement behaviors unique to other ethnic groups. Lacking culture-appropriate measurement limits our ability to construct programs that adequately incorporate protective factors to promote children's successful development. The present mixed-methods investigation employed an emic approach to understand family engagement conceptualizations for a pan-Latino population. One hundred thirteen parents from 14 Head Start programs in a large, northeastern city participated in the first study, in which domains of family engagement were identified and specific items were co-constructed to capture family engagement behaviors. Then, 650 caregivers participated in a second study examining the construct validity of the resulting 65-item measure across two language versions: Parental Engagement of Families from Latino Backgrounds (PEFL-English) and Participación Educativa de Familias Latinas (PEFL-Spanish). Four theoretically meaningful dimensions of family engagement among Latino Head Start families were identified empirically. The measure was then validated with teacher report of family involvement and parent report of satisfaction with their experiences in Head Start.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)593-607
Number of pages15
JournalEarly Childhood Research Quarterly
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2013


  • Early childhood education
  • Family engagement
  • Latino
  • Measurement
  • Mixed methods

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Defining family engagement among Latino Head Start parents: A mixed-methods measurement development study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this