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Meet National PTA's Family Engagement Committee

  • Frances Frost, Chair (MD)
  • Phadra Foster (AL)
  • Donna Kosicki (GA)
  • Charman Postel (FL)
  • Tracie Potts (MD)
  • Heather Starks (MN)
  • Heather Zirke (OH)

Transforming our Engagement

Parents are critical to their student's success. Our approach to family engagement is paving the way to the future. Watch our video series about the importance of transformative family engagement.

About the Center for Family Engagement
About the Center for Family Engagement
Why Transformative Family Engagement?
Why Transformative Family Engagement?
What is Transformative Family Engagement?
What is Transformative Family Engagement?

Expanding on Our Mission

Family engagement should transform the lives of every child in America. That’s why we are investing in our mission with the Center for Family Engagement. Through a focus on grassroots leadership development, the Center for Family Engagement aims to embed transformative family engagement practices, programs and policies across the educational system so that every parent is treated as a valuable partner in their child’s education.

Over the next three years, the Center for Family Engagement will …

  • Raise awareness about transformative family engagement among PTA members and leaders by acting as a clearinghouse of innovative approaches, cutting-edge research, and best practices that PTAs can put into action
  • Empower PTAs across the country to be leaders in transformative family engagement efforts through grant and recognition opportunities, as well as connections to other leading family engagement organizations
  • Influence transformative family engagement decisions and resources by contributing to a national research agenda on how parent voice shapes family engagement programs, practices, and policies

 

Transformative Family Engagement

The Four 'I's of Family Engagement

When PTAs are inclusive they embrace and value diverse perspectives.


Developing an inclusive approach helps all families understand that their perspective matters. PTAs need to intentionally build trusting relationships with families in order to ensure they feel comfortable and welcome in the community. 

Strategies:

  • Work on relationship building by using name tents so that you can call people by their names.

  • Create a more welcoming environment to newcomers by avoiding the use  acronyms or making inside jokes.

  • Start to question assumptions by thinking about the calendar for the year and exploring where you can  rethink a PTA tradition or to create a new one.

Inclusive

When PTAs take an individualized approach to family engagement they meet the unique needs of every family and child.


When families attend meetings, they are looking to find out information that is relevant to their own child. Every parent should leave a PTA meeting knowing how the information presented is helpful to their family specifically.

Strategies:

  • Instead of relying on a mass email, try the old fashioned approach by talking with families directly - the carloop during pick up is a great place to start

  • Rather than a long PTA meeting that may not be relevant to everyone, mix things up with mini-sessions led by experts on topics parents care about. 

Individualized

When PTAs have an integrated approach to family engagement they connect and align their efforts with the broader educational system.


When PTAs partner with teachers and link PTA programming to the learning that is happening in the classroom, it is even more effective.

Strategies:

  • Evaluate how you can make parent teacher conferences more productive for everyone involved.

  • Consider events that go beyond fundraising. For example, consider swapping a bake sale to raise money  for science supplies, with a student-led STEM forum for families.

Integrated

When PTAs are impactful they empower families to support their children’s success.


Because family engagement is complex and relational, it can feel difficult to measure, but even small steps towards understanding the outcomes of your PTA’s work can go a long way.

Strategies:

  • After hosting an event, interview families to see what they learned about how they can help support their child.

  • Conduct a focus group or listening session to learn about how families feel about their experiences engaging with the school or district

Impactful

More Resources

Read through our best practices guide to discover how local PTAs are transforming family engagement in their communities: