What is Family Engagement?
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Education’s policy statement on family engagement from the early years to the early grades defines family engagement as “the systematic inclusion of families in activities and programs that promote children’s development, learning, and wellness, including in the planning, development, and evaluation of such activities, programs, and systems.”1
Family engagement is constant across a child’s life and is the shared responsibility of school staff and families. Schools are committed to making families feel welcome and engaging families in meaningful ways. Families are committed to actively supporting their children’s learning, development, health, and wellness. Effective family engagement occurs in multiple settings including the home, in school, out of school programs, and in the community.
Why is Family Engagement Important?
Research shows that when families are engaged, students get better grades, choose healthier behaviors, and have better social skills. By creating strong, effective partnerships between families and schools, we can create a safe and supportive environment for children to learn, grow, and develop.2
Strategies for Increasing Family Engagement
There are multiple strategies for increasing family engagement in schools. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the following framework:3
- Connect: Schools must make a positive connection with parents.
- Engage: Schools should provide a variety of activities and frequent opportunities to fully engage parents.
- Sustain: Schools should work with parents to sustain parent engagement by addressing the common challenges to getting and keeping parents engaged.
Resources for Families
Check out the following resources to help you engage with your child’s school to support health and learning:
CDC Family Engagement Resource
Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s Family Engagement Resources
Resources for Teachers and Administrators
Check out the following resources to learn more about how to support and engage families in education:
Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Family Portal
Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) School Family Partnership
- U.S. Department of Education. Policy Statement on Family Engagement from the Early Years to the Early Grades. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2016. https://www2.ed.gov/about/inits/ed/earlylearning/files/policy-statement-on-family-engagement.pdf. Accessed April 8, 2021.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Parents for Healthy Schools Resources. CDC Website. https://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/parentsforhealthyschools/p4hs.htm. Updated February 4, 2020. Accessed April 8, 2021.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Parent Engagement: Strategies for Involving Parents in School Health. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2012.