National Parental Involvement day is November 17, 2016.
Whether we are medical, clinical practitioners, social service providers or educa-tors, employing strategies that engage the partnership of the stake holders, in this case family members, will make a difference in the outcome of the shared goals. “When schools, families, and community groups work together to support learn-ing, children tend to do better in school, stay in school longer, and like school more.”1
The research and guidance summarized in Parent Engagement: Strategies for In-volving Parents and Prevention in School Health, explored many resources that demonstrated policy, practices and strategies that enhance authentic partnership and engagement with parents and other primary caregivers.2 Strong partnerships with families were shown to increase parent engagement resulting in positive out-comes in the educational and health habits of families. Successful partnerships start with intentional planning by a leadership organization that includes parents, providers and support staff at every level to develop strategies to connect, engage and sustain engagement.
Respectfully learn through conversation and active listening what is important to the family members. What do they see as the qualities which strengthen their fam-ily? What are the family values and goals? Those goals are accepted, valued and treated with compassion.3
Families are encouraged and supported in acquiring the knowledge at the level at which they choose and at which they are comfortable.3 Families are provided con-sistent information of what is needed to support their child in staying healthy, at-tending and developing new skills.
Parents and providers are part of the process of evaluation, review, planning and the making changes to improve the shared outcomes. Families are fully informed of the decisions to be made and have a voice in the continued plan of action.
Family involvement is the very basic goal for positive outcomes. Authentic, re-spectful, intentional strategies for Family Engagement will bring the lasting posi-tive outcomes for health and life long learning.
Mary McCarty, Mental Health Coordinator, Two Rivers Head Start