2012-13, A Remarkable Year for Parent and Family Engagement at Children's Aid Society Community Schools

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Creating programs that are rooted in research is a significant practice at Children’s Aid. This is true of our work with parents and family, since decades of research show that their engagement is critical to student academic success. Higher test scores and graduation rates, as well as increased motivation and self-esteem, are just some of the benefits of parent engagement.  Even more than socioeconomic background, an engaged parent is a reliable predictor of improved academic performance. Therefore developing comprehensive parent engagement programs has been a pivotal role of the CAS community schools.   

During 2012-13, parents had the opportunity to learn about topics ranging from understanding developmental milestones and organizing homework time, to planning for college, navigating standardized test results and understanding common core standards. To encourage parents own educational  development there was access to leadership trainings, adult education and vocational programs; as well as opportunities to network, engage in advocacy efforts and advisory councils  -- which, among other, influence the schools’ strategy, plan activities and help create a firm connection to the community.

Over 350 parents received certificates of completion at spirited “Graduation Ceremonies”.   Many got GED, ESL and technology certificates.  Others shared the results of the year’s hard work at art and design exhibits.  At one of the events grandparents, parents and children performed a theater skit that they themselves wrote and directed, about the negative impact of forced immigration on families.  

Acknowledging CAS dedication to parents and community engagement and educational development, the New York State Assembly presented a Public Service Proclamation to Migdalia Cortes-Torres, Community School Director at the Salomé Ureña de Enriquez Campus and Assembly Citations to a group of professionals from the community, who faithfully volunteer at the schools.  

Community schools are now part of the CAS School Age Division, which also includes the community centers.  The “cross-pollination” inherent in this new structure is exciting, the schools will profit from the center’s expertise and they from ours.  One of the schools’ strengths is precisely our proven success in developing substance parent-family engagement and adult education programs; our expertise can   benefit the entire division. Across centers and schools we will be focusing even more on education, on different venues of communication between home-school-home and on college planning awareness.   As always, at centers and schools, no parent will be expendable; they will always be welcome and their engagement will be everybody’s job.