Graduation Date

Spring 2021

Document Type



Master of Arts degree with a major in Education

Committee Chair Name

Dr. John Lee

Committee Chair Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Second Committee Member Name

Dr. Carrie Aigner

Second Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Third Committee Member Name

Dr. Libbi Miller

Third Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff


Family engagement, Parent education, Early childhood education, COVID-19 experiences, Parent mental health, Head start, HSU Children's Center

Subject Categories



This study surveyed the diverse families at the HSU Children’s Center who have children ranging in age from infancy to preschool. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the way the Children’s Center operates has changed in profound ways. The families are no longer able to enter the classrooms to drop off or pick up their children, thereby limiting the daily communication and interactions with staff on how their children are doing. Families opportunities to engage and interact with other families has also been altered, resulting in a sense of loss of community and support among parents.

The purpose of this study was to get parent input on their feelings of sense of belonging and connectedness to their child’s classroom and teachers despite the changes brought on by the COVID-19 protocols. Additionally, the survey asked families multiple choice and short answer questions about their interests in parent education topics offered in person and online, their experiences during shelter-in-place and the Center’s efforts to provide distance learning and engagement, as well as ways the Center could provide them more support during these unprecedented times.

The parents reported a wide-range of responses in feeling connected to their child’s care and classroom teachers. Some reported feeling moderately or not at all connected, while others felt more connected. The families placed high value on having daily communication with teachers, with many parents wanting more information about their child’s day through e-mails, zoom calls and the daily information sheet. Parents also stated their concerns and satisfactions with the COVID-19 procedures, and had some suggestions for areas of improvement. Families were asked about their interest levels in parent education topics and rated topics in terms of importance and provided their own topics of parent education interests. From the numerous short answer responses, it is clear that families value having a voice in their child’s care and education, and expressed their need to be involved, included and supported during these unusual times. Lastly, families expressed extreme gratitude for the Center staying open, and believed the teachers need more acts of appreciation.

Citation Style

Wainwright-Rice, E.(2021), A Study of Family Engagement and COVID-19 Experiences at the HSU Children's Center. Humboldt State University, Arcata, Ca.

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