SS/HS provided the opportunity for school districts in Michigan to reduce silos and partner and collaborate with families, schools, and community partners. As a result of increased focus on authentic family engagement and empowerment, 2,700 families across all three LEAs were actively engaged in school activities since implementation in 2013-14 academic year. This significant increase was largely due to implementation of evidence-based programs, such as Strengthening Families and Epstein’s Model, as well as innovative staff workshops (e.g., “Lunch and Learn”) and interdisciplinary collaboration (e.g., Family Engagement Support Teams). For Saginaw Public School District (SPSD) in particular, this collaboration resulted in the development of the Parent/Family and Community Engagement Empowerment Center which opened spring 2017.
Prior to the establishment of the Family and Community Engagement Empowerment Center, there was no centralized location for families to access information and obtain support in the district within SPSD. Now, families are able to easily access services and receive support. As a result, parent satisfaction and increased community engagement have improved. SS/HS and the Family and Community Engagement Empowerment Center deliver trainings and education to families, school staff, administrators, and community partners. Trainings are provided in restorative practices and Strengthening Families, and the Parent Family Community Engagement Specialist has hosted “lunch and learns” and provided an enormous amount of support for family members.
Through state level partnership with Parent Action for Healthy Kids (PAFHK), Michigan developed the Family Engagement Perception Instrument (FEPI). The FEPI can be used at all levels (state, intermediate, and local) to assess providers who serve children and families in any setting. In addition, PAFHK is meeting with key stakeholders and conducting parent focus groups to gather input for the states’ philosophy statement. Key concepts leading the way are respect, transparency, and empathy that set the stage to gauge and move communities towards authentic family engagement.
“I haven’t seen this type of quality in the level of programming in the last decade in our district and
Safe Schools/Healthy Students is definitely a major contributor to keeping our parents aware of
services that we provide in the district as well as those that are external to our district.”
— Nathaniel McClain, Superintendent, Saginaw Public Schools