Student and Family Support (SFS)

Office of Student and Family Support (SFS)

Family Engagement
Initiatives and Resources

hands around people

The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's (DESE) definition of Family Engagement:

The primary goal of family engagement is to facilitate shared responsibility that contributes to the healthy development, learning, and growth of children - from the earliest ages into young adulthood. Family engagement builds relationships between students, families, educators, and the community. These relationships over time develop into meaningful partnerships rooted in the strengths and assets of all.

  • Effective family engagement is culturally responsive, collaborative, equitable, and respectful of diverse languages, norms, and values.
  • Effective engagement strives to eliminate barriers to participation.
  • These engagement practices take place in schools, in the community, and wherever students live and learn.

Family Engagement Tools and Resources:

Initiative Examples:

  • Family Engagement Networking & Professional Development Series:
    The Department's (DESE) Office of Student and Family Support (SFS) in collaboration with Massachusetts State Family Engagement Center (MASFEC) is excited to offer a series of networking and professional development opportunities focused on Building Authentic and Effective Relationships with all Families. The 2021-2022 series will be virtual (unless otherwise noted) and will include webinars, networking sessions, and book discussions, groups.

  • Massachusetts Family Institute for Student Success (FISS):
    Supported through a federally funded Statewide Family Engagement Center (SFEC) grant, and the federally funded 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant, FISS promotes cultural and linguistically responsive two-way communication that elevates family voices to support systemic change. FISS is provided in collaboration with the Parent Institute for Quality Education (PIQE). FISS includes a three-day seminar series (nine hours total) to train teachers, administrators, and community partners in the research-based Family Engagement in Education Curriculum. The training covers topics including culturally relevant family recruitment strategies, the selection and training of recruiters, the selection and training of facilitators, how to develop effective communication with families, and how to measure program outcomes. FISS also directly engages families, at the school level, in a nine-week institute, taught in their primary language, that provides them with the knowledge, skills, and ability to actively engage in their children's education and strengthen the family-school collaboration.

    FISS is currently being implemented in the following school districts: Amherst Middle School in partnership with the Collaborative for Educational Services, Fall River, Fitchburg, Lawrence, Lowell, and New Bedford.

  • Massachusetts Family School Partnership Initiative 2021-2022:
    The Department's Systems for Student Success (SFSS) and Student and Family Support (SFS) Offices, in collaboration with School & Main Institute and Pat Spradley, former chief of parent and community engagement for the Springfield Public Schools, are offering the 2021-2022 Massachusetts Family School Partnership Initiative.

    This initiative is designed to strengthen family engagement practices by providing school and district teams with training and coaching to implement the Massachusetts Family, School, and Community Partnership Fundamentals — Version 2.0 . During the 2021-2022 school year Chelsea, Douglas, Everett, Malden, Randolph, Swampscott, and Woburn will be participating in this initiative.

  • Parent and Community Education and Involvement Advisory Council (PCEIAC)
    The Parent and Community Education and Involvement Advisory Council (PCEIAC) focuses on matters pertaining to the development of parent and community engagement in education. Its function is to help inform and advise the Department on policy issues that relate to the enhancement of the educational achievement of Massachusetts students.

  • Massachusetts Statewide Family Engagement CenterPrenatal through Young Adulthood Family Engagement Framework for Massachusetts (framework) Training of Trainers (ToT)
    This training series is for communities interested in implementing the framework. The framework is designed to strengthen the capacities of educators, healthcare providers, and child development professionals to support effective family engagement efforts. Participants are trained in the 4 training modules and require active participation in 3 sessions that are each 3 hours long.

  • Family Engagement is Essential —
    Family and community engagement is an integral part of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Schools and local education agencies (school districts, also known as LEAs) must actively engage families and community members in the development of state and local education plans for the use of funds including Federal Grants such as Title I, Part A that provides financial assistance to districts and schools with high numbers or high percentages of children from low-income families. Schools must partner with stakeholders including families in the development of school improvement plans for schools identified for support and improvement under ESSA.

For more information contact Olga Lopez , Family Engagement Specialist.

Last Updated: May 21, 2022

Contact Information

For more information on SFS or related programs contact:

Rachelle Engler Bennett, Associate Commissioner

Kristen McKinnon, Assistant Director

Student and Family Support (SFS)
Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
75 Pleasant Street Malden, MA 02148
Email: achievement@doe.mass.edu
Phone: 781-338-3010/ Fax: 781-338-3090

 
Contact Us

Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
75 Pleasant Street, Malden, MA 02148-4906

Voice: (781) 338-3000
TTY: (800) 439-2370

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