The National Standards for Family School Partnerships offer an important framework for connecting families to schools in meaningful ways. Standard 6 is connecting with the community. The goal is to connect families and the school with community resources. Families and school staff should collaborate with community members to connect students, families, and staff to expanded learning opportunities, community services, and civic participation. National PTA has developed several indicators you can use to measure your effectiveness in meeting Standard 6.
The first indicator is linking to community resources. Schools and PTAs that do this well often have a family resource center staffed by faculty and parent volunteers to inform families about services, make referrals to community programs, and plan activities. Some PTAs have worked with the community to connect with health or dental clinics, coordinate used clothing exchanges, or host food drives for low-income families.
The second indicator is organizing support from community partners. Schools and PTAs can work with community and business representatives to assess needs and develop programs to support student success and find create ways to provide funding and staff. For example, some PTAs have worked with local community based organizations and local universities to implement Parent Academies.
The third indicator is turning the school into a hub of community life. PTAs can work with their local school to ensure facilities such as computer labs, media centers, classrooms, and gyms are open year-round for community use. Offering year-round programs to families helps to keep them connected to the school, even when it’s not in session!
The fourth indicator is partnering with community groups to strengthen families and support student success. Teachers and families can work with local groups to develop solutions to local problems. PTAs can survey families to identify existing needs and then work with local service providers to connect families to their services. Some PTAs have community resource fairs to introduce families to all of the service providers in their local community.
For more information about the Standard 6: Collaborating with the Community as well as the rest of the National Standards for Family-School Partnerships, check out our resources!
ENGAGE! is a weekly column on Family Engagement written by Sherri Wilson, Senior Manager of Family and Community Engagement at the National PTA. Sherri is the former Director of the Alabama Parent Information and Resource Center and is currently responsible for developing and implementing programs related to family and community engagement at the National PTA.