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ERIC Number: ED555581
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2014-Oct
Pages: 17
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 23
Systemic, Integrated, and Sustainable Family Engagement across the Early Age Spectrum in San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties. Issue Brief
Fehrer, Kendra
John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities
A growing body of evidence indicates the critical importance of appropriate supports for children and their families at early ages, as well as the potential for targeted interventions to make meaningful contributions to children's development. Family involvement in the early years of a child's learning and development can serve as a protective factor for children at risk for negative life outcomes. Indeed, family engagement has emerged as a critical strategy used especially for supporting positive outcomes for students from low-income and immigrant communities. Yet practitioners receive little training on how to effectively engage families. Within organizations, family engagement efforts may be haphazard; i.e., not aligned to specific goals or learning objectives. And frequently, there is little collaboration between child- and family-serving organizations in the same community, resulting in missed opportunities for sustained, systemic support to families (Weiss et al., 2010; Mapp & Kuttner, 2014). This brief reports findings from a needs assessment study meant to inform project planning for a systemic, integrated, and sustainable family engagement initiative, the Family Engagement Impact Project (FEIP) in San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties. The needs assessment consisted of two surveys administered to low-income, immigrant families and the providers who engage them. Approximately 800 families and 120 providers across six communities participated. The surveys explored how families and providers think about families' engagement, what resources they utilize to support young (0-8 years) children's learning, and what resources would support a more systemic effort to engage parents in their children's learning and development. The key findings include: (1) Both participant families and service providers place high priority on family engagement interventions that support children's learning and development. This shared goal suggests a promising implementation context for further efforts to better integrate and improve family engagement initiatives; (2) While families in the study overwhelmingly report that they care about their children's learning and development, they also report that they do not always know how to support their individual children's learning needs; (3) The kinds of programming available to families are not always aligned with what families believe they need to support their children's learning and development, including activities that parents can do "with" their children such as enrichment activities, playgroups, and support groups; (4) Provider definitions of successful family engagement emphasize participation, communication, collaboration, and empowerment. In general, providers highlighted school- or site-based participation and did not highlight children and families learning at home, or culturally shaped ways parents may support their children's learning; (5) Providers reported interest in professional development that includes specific strategies, pedagogies, and approaches to skillfully engage families in their children's early learning, such as training in adult learning theory, creating hands-on workshops, and using strength-based approaches; and (6) Parents are involved in a number of practices to support their children's school readiness. While preschool and elementary school providers support students' kindergarten transition, there is a greater need for increased systemic collaboration among providers offering supports to children and their families across multiple settings and ages.
John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities. Stanford University, 505 Lasuen Mall, Stanford, CA 94305. Tel: 650-723-3099; Fax: 650-736-7160; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Early Childhood Education; Kindergarten; Primary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Heising-Simons Foundation
Authoring Institution: Stanford University, John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities (JGC)
Identifiers - Location: California