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Tips for a Successful Family Support Program

February 4, 2013
By

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If parents have concerns, they can feel more comfortable bringing them to me. And when we need to reach out to them for support, they’re more willing to work with us.

Michelle Griffith

Taft Elementary School Principal

 The research shows:

  • Family support programs improved children’s cognitive, social, and emotional development and school performance, according to a national survey of research reports on 260 family support programs. (Abt Associates)
  • In several studies that followed family support program participants over a period of years, children in participating families scored better than comparison groups in measures of language development, reading, school attendance, social adjustment and intelligence for up to 10 years, according to a review of six family support studies. (Edna Comer and Mark Fraser)
  • Parent involvement and support for education is a better predictor of student achievement than income or social status. (Research review by San Diego County Office of Education)

Keys to success:

  • Weekly team meetings — which include the family center site coordinator, vice principal, mental health specialist and benefits analyst — help meet the family’s needs on many levels.
  • Teachers and family center staff support each other. The counselor “can give me recommendations, and I can say, ‘This is what works for him’” in the classroom, says Rosemarie Perez, a teacher.
  • Parent Involvement and Leadership Facilitators offer translation at parent-teacher conferences and school events, according to Karin Kelley-Torregroza, director of  Redwood City Family Centers. They also coach parents on bringing concerns to teachers, administrators,and even the school board.
  • Monthly coffees with parents and the principal allow parents to bring questions, concerns and ideas. “It’s their meeting,” says Taft Elementary School Principal Michelle Griffith. “I’m there to listen to them. If parents have concerns, they can feel more comfortable bringing them to me. And when we need to reach out to them for support, they’re more willing to work with us.”
  • The school’s leadership and family center staff work together. Principal Griffith’s advice: “Do the planning together instead of saying, ‘We’re doing this, and oh, by the way, can you come?’”
  • Public and private agencies collaborate so families can access comprehensive services in their neighborhood schools rather than traveling downtown.

Originally written by Melia Franklin.