ACSA Affiliate Content

Family Engagement Toolkit

The Association of California School Administrators is the largest umbrella organization for school leaders in the United States, serving more than 17,000 California educators.

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15 Fa m i l y En g a g e m e n t To o l k i t GETTING STARTED: WHERE ARE WE NOW? (see p. 46 for research and the section "Understanding Families" in Resources for more information about these approaches). The team needs to learn about the support and resources that families and communities provide for their children, as well as the chal- lenges they experience in caring for their children and supporting their learning. Key questions for learning about strengths and challenges of your families: y What languages are spoken in our communities? y How long have families lived in the neighborhoods or had children aending the district schools? y Who are the leaders that have influence in different communities? y What are the assets in the community (e.g., religious organizations, small businesses, health and social service agencies, recreation facilities)? y What have been families' experiences of their school? Have they felt welcome at school and district offices? Are there differences in the experiences of families in dif- ferent groups (e.g., families of English learner students, of students with disabilities, or from particular racial or ethnic backgrounds)? y If families are living in poverty, is it due to recent changes in the local economy or is inter-generational poverty a characteristic of many families? y What previous experience with schooling do families have (e.g., in previous genera- tions and/or in other countries)? y Are immigrant families first- or second-generation immigrants? Are they refugees? How recently have they arrived in the U.S.? y How many students are in foster care, or living with grandparents or other family members who serve as their guardians? Keep in mind that one district may include many different communities, and families' expe- riences, strengths, and challenges may differ from one community to another. Looking for data about the strengths and challenges of families in the district can be an opportunity to collaborate with leaders in various district programs (e.g., aer-school programs or English Learner programs) or to partner with community-based organizations. Some of these organizations may already conduct asset- or opportunity-mapping to learn about their communities and may be working to promote equitable access and outcomes for students. The data you gather about families in the district may also be useful to teach- ers in the classroom. For example, when educators are aware of the support and resources in their students' community, they can incorporate these in the curriculum and partner with community leaders and institutions to support student learning (WestEd, 2010).

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