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New Organization for Family Engagement Launched

by School's Out Washington | | Posted under Afterschool and Summer News

There’s a new name in the world of family engagement in Washington. The Washington Family and Community Engagement Trust opened its doors this past July to unite schools, families and communities for children and youth’s academic achievement and well-being.

The Trust was founded by Adie Simmons, the founding director of the Governor’s Office of the Education Ombuds. After 25 years working with families and schools across Washington, Mrs. Simmons believes that when families, educators, and other significant adults in the lives of students view each other as equal partners, caring communities can be formed to ensure better outcomes for all students. The Trust was created from this perspective.

“With growing numbers of professionals across Washington working on school-community-family partnerships, and families looking to participate in the public education system, the need for an organization they could call home was critical,” says Mrs. Simmons.

Family-focused Program Planning Best Practices recommended by the WA Family and Community Engagement Trust

  • Develop programs that build parent-teacher-student relationships and focus on children’s learning and well-being.
  • Involve diverse families in program design. Ask for their thoughts and opinions and integrate their input into your plans.
  • To ensure parent program participation: assess and then tap into their interests from the get go.
  • Be an agent of parental self-growth. Always include a piece of parental news, information and knowledge in every program.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask parents to help tackle big problems or barriers –that’s what partnerships are all about.

The Trust utilizes the recently released U.S. Department of Education’s Dual-capacity Building Framework as the basis for teaching educators and other professionals how to engage with families, and families how to engage in education.

In addition, the Trust works to educate the public, elected officials, and decision-makers about the power of parental engagement in public education and in diverse communities. “Parent training is booming nationally and locally because it correlates with increased student learning. We are working on two leadership models: ParentNet, a program that trains parents to facilitate grade-level school meetings for other parents, and the Parent Leadership Training Institute, a high-level, civic engagement training program for parents” says Mrs. Simmons.

The Trust has attracted a great number of followers since its inception just six months ago. Nearly 3,000 individuals have joined its network to receive monthly news and information and hundreds of others follow them on Twitter (@FamEng) and Facebook (WA Family Engagement Trust). “We are a partnership-oriented organization always looking to develop collaborative projects and to be of service to others,” adds Mrs. Simmons.

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