Youth who receive special education services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA 2004) and especially young adults of transition age, should be involved in planning for life after high school as early as possible and no later than age 16. Transition services should stem from the individual youth’s needs and strengths, ensuring that planning takes into account his or her interests, preferences, and desires for the future.
Dual Capacity-Building Framework for Family-School Partnerships
The U.S. Department of Education released Partners in Education: A Dual Capacity-Building Framework for Family-School Partnerships (PDF, 32 pages) for schools and their surrounding communities to serve as a model to build the kind of community engagement that will make schools the center of communities. The Dual Capacity Framework provides a process to enhance the capacity of staff at the district and school levels to cultivate and sustain at scale active, respectful, and effective partnerships with families that are linked to learning and support children’s learning and development and school improvement.
- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Family Assistance and the White House Initiative on Promoting Responsible Fatherhood and Strong Communities sponsored the National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse in the development of the Responsible Fatherhood Toolkit: Resources from the Field. The toolkit provides lessons learned and resources from fatherhood programs in diverse locales throughout the nation that can be used to help develop, maintain, or expand responsible fatherhood programs.
- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Head Start produced Parent, Family and Community Engagement Framework (PDF, 22 pages). This guide outlines the strategies for implementing father engagement programming across systems and services. Recognizing that father engagement is an essential component of family engagement, this framework is designed for all Head Start staff as they serve expectant fathers and fathers of infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. The framework may also be useful to other service providers — teachers, home visitors, or parent leaders — who work with fathers.
Child Welfare Practice Models
The Child Welfare Information Gateway — supported by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children & Families — presents Child Welfare Practice Models to emphasize family engagement as a cornerstone of achieving positive outcomes. These practice models build from a clearly defined vision and set of core values and contain definitions, explanations, and expectations of how an agency will operate and how it will partner with families and other stakeholders in child welfare services. Specific strategies that reflect family engagement include:
- Frequent and substantive caseworker visits: Caseworkers have frequent and meaningful contact with families to engage them in the work that needs to be done to protect children, promote permanency, and ensure the well-being of children and youth.
- Family group decision-making: Caseworkers collaborate with families to make decisions about and develop plans for the care and services of their children and youth.
- Motivational interviewing: Caseworkers rely heavily on listening reflectively and asking directive questions to promote behavior change by helping families explore and resolve ambivalence.
- Collaborative strategies: Caseworkers collaborate with families in a strength-based way to support the achievement of case goals and objectives.
- An active and meaningful role for families: Caseworkers involve families in case planning and check in with them during visits about their understanding of and progress toward the plan.
- Father involvement: Caseworkers reach out to fathers and work with them to enhance their positive involvement with their children and youth.
- Family search and engagement: Caseworkers encourage broad-based participation in family decision-making to leverage kinship connections and increase placement and permanency options.
- Mediation: Caseworkers and families work with a neutral facilitator to arrive at a mutually acceptable plan.
- Parent-Partner Programs: Parents who were once involved with the child welfare system serve as mentors to currently involved parents, providing support, advocacy, and help with navigating the system.
- Foster family-birth family meetings: Birth families and foster families are encouraged to share information, help model parenting skills, and support participation of foster families in placement conferences that contribute to reunification efforts.
- Parent and youth involvement in agency councils and boards: State and county agencies gather input from parents and youth and use that information to develop programs and policies, design services, and evaluate programs.
4A Framework for Parent Engagement in Dropout Prevention
In the 4A Framework for Parent Engagement in Dropout Prevention, America’s Promise Alliance (originating from The Presidents’ Summit for America’s Future) focuses on four concepts of family engagement that are critical to student success throughout a child’s academic career:
- Attendance Every Day (PDF, 1 page): Ensure that children go to school regularly.
- Achievement Every Year (PDF, 1 page): Monitor and help children make satisfactory progress each year.
- Attainment over Time (PDF, 1 page): Set high expectations for children and plan to help them attain their long-term goals.
- Advocacy for All (PDF, 1 page): Empower parents and families to improve opportunities for excellence in education.
How to Develop a Logic Model for Districtwide Family Engagement Strategies, a guide from the Harvard Family Research Project, helps school district personnel understand and develop a logic model for districtwide family engagement activities. The guide is designed to accompany Seeing Is Believing: Promising Practices for How School Districts Promote Family Engagement, a policy brief created by the Harvard Family Research Project and the National Parent Teacher Association.
Sustainable Community Projects
Through an annual Congressional appropriation for the National Children, Youth, and Families at Risk (CYFAR) Program, the U.S. Department of Agriculture allocates funding to land-grant university extension services for community-based programs for at-risk children and their families. CYFAR is based on research on effective programs for at-risk youth and families and on the human ecological principle of working across the lifespan in the context of the family and community. To ensure that the critical needs of children and families are being met, CYFAR supports and promotes:
- Comprehensive, intensive, community-based programs that involve active participation by citizens in all phases of development;
- Building resiliency and protective factors in youth, families, and communities;
- Collaboration, forming lasting partnerships to achieve greater outcomes and provide a support base for sustaining programs for those at risk; and
- The use of technology to improve programs, provide efficient access to educational resources, and provide essential technological skills for youth and adults in at-risk environments.
See an example: Iowa State University’s Strengthening Families Program.
America’s Promise Alliance: General Parent Engagement Information and Available Toolkits
This webpage from America’s Promise Alliance offers a list of literature, information, and toolkits that provide an overview of parent engagement strategies and resources.
A Compilation of State and Provincial Laws, Policies, Rules and Regulations on Family Group Decision Making and Other Family Engagement Approaches in Child Welfare Decision Making (PDF, 4 pages)
This paper from the National Center on Family Group Decision Making identifies and briefly describes laws and policies surrounding family group decision-making and other family engagement approaches for 16 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and three Canadian provinces.
Building Capacity for Family Engagement
In this article and video, Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Senior Lecturer Karen Mapp describes the origins and goals of the Dual Capacity-Building Framework for Family-School Partnerships for school-family partnerships adopted by the U.S. Department of Education.
Family Engagement Inventory
The Family Engagement Inventory (FEI) is a free, interactive website designed to familiarize professionals in child welfare, juvenile justice, behavioral health, early childhood education, and education with family engagement, as defined and implemented across these fields of practice. The site aggregates knowledge in a way that helps professionals in multidisciplinary exploration of family engagement. FEI helps practitioners, managers, and system leaders understand the commonalities and differences in family engagement across the disciplines to support collaboration among the multiple systems that often work with the same families. FEI is a product of the Child Welfare Information Gateway, which is a service from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
How Strengthening Families Aligns With the Head Start Parent, Family, and Community Engagement Framework (PDF, 5 pages)
This paper explores the alignment between the Center for the Study of Social Policy’s Strengthening Families approach and the Head Start Parent, Family, and Community Engagement Framework to aid leaders in states, agencies, and early childhood programs in understanding the contributions of these frameworks and making informed decisions about implementation strategies to promote family and community engagement to support children’s healthy development and improved outcomes.
National Center on Family Group Decision Making
The National Center on Family Group Decision Making helps build community capacity to implement high-quality, effective family group decision-making processes by sharing resources, advancing family-driven practices, creating knowledge, and building links to improve the implementation and evaluation of family group decision-making.
National Child Welfare Resource Center for Organizational Improvement (NRCOI)
NRCOI offers free, onsite training, technical assistance, research, and evaluation to help state and tribal child welfare agencies with strategic planning, improving quality, evaluating outcomes, facilitating stakeholder involvement, and improving training and workforce development. NRCOI is funded by the Children’s Bureau, Administration for Children & Families at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections
The National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections emphasizes family-centered principles and practices and provides training, technical assistance, and information services to help state, local, tribal and other publicly administered or supported child welfare agencies. The Center is a service of the Children’s Bureau, Office of the Administration for Children & Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and a member of the Training and Technical Assistance Network.
Parent Engagement: Strategies for Involving Parents in School Health (PDF, 28 pages)
This guide from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identifies evidence-based strategies for teachers, administrators, school staff, and parents to use to increase parent engagement in school health. To help schools use these strategies, the guide recommends specific actions for each strategy.
Parent Power: Build the Bridge to Success (PDF, 32 pages)
This booklet from the U.S. Department of Education presents principles and steps for parents to take at each age level of a child’s development to help their child(ren) learn and achieve success in school and life.
Promoting Parent Engagement: Improving Student Health and Academic Achievement — Information for Parents and Families (PDF, 3 pages)
This fact sheet from the Centers from Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Adolescent School Health provides guidance for parents and families to support parent engagement in school health.
Promoting Parent Engagement: Improving Student Health and Academic Achievement — Information for School Districts and School Administrators (PDF, 3 pages)
This fact sheet from the Centers from Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Adolescent School Health provides guidance for school districts and administrators to support parent engagement in school health.
Promoting Parent Engagement: Improving Student Health and Academic Achievement — Information for Teachers and Other School Staff (PDF, 4 pages)
This fact sheet from the Centers from Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Adolescent School Health provides guidance for teachers and other school staff to support parent engagement in school health.
Promoting Parent Engagement in School Health: A Facilitator’s Guide for Staff Development (PDF, 52 pages)
This guide from the Centers from Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Adolescent School Health offers instructions to conduct this staff development program. The guide provides step-by-step procedures, activities and exercises, handout materials, and resources.
Other Resources on this Topic
Research links early leadership with increased self-efficacy and suggests that leadership can help youth to develop decision making and interpersonal skills that support successes in the workforce and adulthood. In addition, young leaders tend to be more involved in their communities, and have lower dropout rates than their peers. Youth leaders also show considerable benefits for their communities, providing valuable insight into the needs and interests of young people
Statistics reflecting the number of youth suffering from mental health, substance abuse, and co-occurring disorders highlight the necessity for schools, families, support staff, and communities to work together to develop targeted, coordinated, and comprehensive transition plans for young people with a history of mental health needs and/or substance abuse.
Nearly 30,000 youth aged out of foster care in Fiscal Year 2009, which represents nine percent of the young people involved in the foster care system that year. This transition can be challenging for youth, especially youth who have grown up in the child welfare system.
Research has demonstrated that as many as one in five children/youth have a diagnosable mental health disorder. Read about how coordination between public service agencies can improve treatment for these youth.
Civic engagement has the potential to empower young adults, increase their self-determination, and give them the skills and self-confidence they need to enter the workforce. Read about one youth’s experience in AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC).