Family engagement is a critical component in creating an empowered culture within schools and is a key aspect of VTSS. For this reason, schools must make a concerted effort to involve families as early and as often as possible.
Requirements for family engagement are found in almost every federal and state education statute and regulation. The Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 defines parent involvement as “the participation of parents in regular, two-way and meaningful communication involving student academic learning and other school activities, including ensuring that parents play an integral role in assisting the child’s learning.” The 2004 Individuals with Disabilities Education Act ensures parents have the opportunity to be members of any decision-making team for their child. The Virginia Board of Education recognized the importance of family engagement.
The PTA National Standards for Family School Partnerships focus on what families, schools and communities can do together to support positive student outcomes. Each of the six standards includes quality indicators for successful partnerships. The standards are available on the National PTA website. Additional information on family engagement is available at the Parent Educational Advocacy Training Center.
Within the VTSS framework, an empowering culture is a key component that supports the effective instruction of students. Families should be involved from the beginning as a school creates an empowering culture to support implementation of VTSS. Families need information on how data for VTSS will be collected, how it will be used and what supports will be provided to their child. The supports provided through VTSS do not replace a parent’s right to request assessment of their child for special education or any other entitlement services offered by the school.
VTSS Family Engagement Resources
- Aligning and Integrating Family Engagement in Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS)
This publication outlines concepts and strategies for promoting family engagement for families and schools. Key contexts include: foundations for supporting families and children at all grade levels, engaging families through School-wide Positive Behavior Support, translating strategies to practice, aligning family engagement strategies with school themes, and navigating education systems and PBIS from the perspective of a parent and teacher.
- Attendance Every Day, What You Should Know
America’s Promise created this document that helps families and schools understand why we should focus on attendance and how attendance impacts school success. It offers suggestions for what schools, community agencies, and parents can do.
- Best Practices for Engaging Families and Community
Hanover Research’s brief reviews the importance of creating a welcoming school environment, outlines three steps for developing an equitable communication plan, and offers a checklist of strategies.
Note: this link takes you to Hanover Research’s website, but the user still has to enter the name, organization, email etc., then they will get a link to view the PDF.
- Epstein’s Framework of Six Types of Involvement
(from the Center for the Social Organization of Schools)
In this publication, Dr. Joyce Epstein of Johns Hopkins University has developed a framework for defining six different types of parent involvement. This framework assists educators in developing school and family partnership programs. The six types of involvement include: parenting, communicating, volunteering, learning at home, decision making, and collaborating with the community.
- Harvard’s Karen Mapp on ESSA, Family Engagement, and How Schools and Communities Can Partner to Help Kids Succeed
This interview with Karen Mapp shares her description of family engagement and how it can support school improvement. She addresses how schools need to know their school’s culture and build trust to make sure the best practices are in place. Karen discusses how ESSA is a step forward in building the language for this work.
- Parent Engagement: Strategies for Involving Parents in School Health from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The Center for Disease Control offers this publication to define and describe parent engagement and identify specific strategies and actions that schools can take to increase parent engagement in schools’ health promotion activities. Strategies are organized around a “Connect, Engage, Sustain” approach to family engagement.
- PBIS Forum 17 Practice Brief: Defining and Promoting Family Engagement in School-wide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports
(from the TA Center on PBIS)
From the PBIS Leadership Forum Roundtable Dialogue comes a practice brief that provides an overview of family engagement, and offers family engagement measures and engagement strategies at all tiers.
- A Family Guide to Multi-Tiered Systems of Supports
The Kansas Technical Assistance System Network (TASN) has created this families’ guide that describes the basic components of any MTSS process and includes questions families might want to pose to schools to learn more about the MTSS process. The guide offers families ways to get involved in the process.
- A Model of Family and Community Engagement in Multi-tiered Systems of Support
(from Florida’s Positive Behavior Support: Multi-Tiered System of Support Project (PBS:MTSS) and the Florida Problem-Solving/Response to Intervention Project (FLPS/RtI))
This overview offers indicators and related goals and strategies for each of six key components of Family and Community Engagement (FACE) in MTSS. This is a useful framework for districts’ efforts to measure and implement FACE.
- Parent Engagement Practices to Improve Outcomes of Preschool Children
This document from Pennsylvania State University is a helpful resource for Pre-K and Family Engagement. It addresses the barrier of educating low income families on the importance of preschool for positive outcomes.
- Understanding Family Engagement Outcomes: Research to Practice Series
This resource from Head Start and the Early Childhood and Learning Center reviews the What, How and Why of Family Engagement. The focus is on why and how parents should be engaged with young children in preparing for school.
- Resources from Formed Families Forward
In partnership with Formed Families Forward, a community parent resource center, the VTSS produced a set of three brief trauma training videos designed for wide use by educator and family audiences. The videos focus on building trauma awareness, responding to trauma and traumatic stress, and supporting trauma-sensitive schools. Videos feature cited best practices content as well as personal interviews with educators, clinicians and families impacted by trauma. All videos emphasize the value of and strategies for building resilience at home and at school.
Three additional family engagement videos were created to highlight specific strategies for school teams to consider as they build momentum around family-school partnerships and strengthen skills to meaningfully engage families in multi-tiered systems.