Family and Community Engagement

This page contains links to websites and documents, contact information for resources, and information on parent training programs.

General Information

Developing Effective Collaborative Partnerships

Building a partnership is essentially building a relationship. The same behaviors and communication skills that people use to build good relationships with family members, friends, neighbors and co-workers, apply equally in the building of good partnerships.  Openness, listening, information sharing, clear communication, understanding and trust all contribute to forming effective partnerships. Read more...

Contributions of Families to Partnerships

Given the opportunity, family members make many contributions. Read ten of them...

Partnering with Families

Making the shift with parents from old ways of relating to new ways of empowering. Read more...

Roles for Families as Leaders

Family support programs can offer parents a range of opportunities to become involved and build leadership capacity.  Below are just a few examples of roles that families can play in designing programs and services. Read more...

Challenges Facing Partners

The challenges for service providers and parents alike involve establishing reasonable expectations for themselves and for those with whom they partner. Read more...

Sustaining Family Involvement

Many community collaborations set a goal of involving parents (and youth) on boards and committees - insuring that the collaborations involve those most affected by services and aware of family needs.  Community collaboratives often find this to be one of their most challenging efforts.  They may find it hard to recruit parents initially, and to sustain the involvement of those that are recruited.  The parents that do remain involved are asked to be involved in everything, and risk being burned out. Read more...

How to Maintain Family Involvement

Parents who become leaders in family support initiatives have motivations for doing so and expectations for what they will do and achieve.  Those who facilitate parent involvement can help parents fulfill their own goals and expectations. Read more...

Introduction to Family Strengthening

Family strengthening provides an approach that takes into account these difficult challenges.  It goes beyond specific strategies, programs and interventions and identifies a framework based on the belief that the best way to protect and support children is by strengthening and supporting their families. Read more...

Parent Leadership: Successful Strategies

Although public policies governing education, health and human services and family support have promoted parent leadership for years, State and local programs often have encountered many challenges in engaging parents in leadership roles. This “successful strategies” document shares lessons from parents and organizations that have led the way. Read more...

Parent Involvement Reaps Big Benefits

Parent involvement isn't a luxury − it's an integral component of student achievement and school reform. Decades of research studies on the effect of meaningful parent involvement programs in schools have found nine points of interest. Read more...

National Parent Leadership Training Programs

Parent Advocates for Youth
459 Vienna
San Francisco, CA 94112
Phone: 415-239-0161 Fax:  415/239-0584

Parent Advocates for Youth (PAY) is the parent advocacy training and leadership arm of Coleman Advocates for Children and Youth. The group was founded in 1994 with parents of youth in Coleman's youth organizing group (Y-MAC) because Coleman staff and Board believed that the voices most absent from the policymaking process were among those most impacted by city policies – namely parents. PAY has become one of the most respected parent organizations in San Francisco. (1)

Parent Leadership Program
The ARC Michigan
1325 S Washington Avenue
Lansing, MI 48933
Phone: 800-292-7851 or 517-487-5426 Fax: 517-487-0303

Provides training for parents of children with special needs.

Parents Anonymous
675 West Foothill Blvd. Suite 220
Claremont, CA 91711-3475
Phone: 909-621-6184 Fax: 909-625-6304

National organization that provides technical assistance and training on a variety of leadership skills for parents. Trains parents to train other parents to operate mutual support groups. Based on a vision that establishing parent input, leadership, and mutual support are essential components in strengthening families and preventing child abuse and neglect.

Parents as Leaders
240 Waisman Center
1500 Highland Avenue
Madison, WI 53706
Phone: 608-263-6745 Fax: 608-263-0529

Provides training for caregivers of children birth-6 years who have special needs.

Parents as Teachers
10176 Corporate Square Drive
Suite 230
St. Louis, MO 63132
Phone: 314-432-4330 Fax: 314-432-8963

PAT trains parents to be parent educators in its nationally replicated program to provide parents with the information and support they need to give their children the best possible start in life. Parents become certified to conduct home visits, coordinate group meetings, conduct developmental screenings, and link parents with providers of service and support. Parent educators work in partnership with the school and the community. Offers a variety of training and technical assistance.

1420 Washington Avenue
Miami Beach, FL 33139
Phone: 305-674-7805 or 305-675-8557 Fax: 305-534-2741

Rainmakers provides social services to low-income families with children in public school. The agency is led by the people for the people. It provides a huge array of customized services to prevent homelessness & other effects of poverty, employment to parents so that children may have a higher quality of life.

Websites and Organizations

Beach Center on Families and Disability University of Kansas
Haworth Hall, Room 3136
1200 Sunnyside Avenue
Lawrence, KS 66045
Phone: 785-864-7600(V/TTY) Fax:  785-864-7605

Works to provide families with the resources and skills needed to help their children with disabilities to reach their full potential.  Conducts research on empowering adolescents and parents of children with disabilities, efficacy of parent-to-parent support, family support policy, friendship, family-centered care, child abuse and neglect, and the role of fathers.

Family Support Network
21902 Second Avenue West
Bothell, WA 98021
Phone: 206-487-4009

A network of responsible citizens who are willing to exchange services and support, both locally and nationwide.  Families serve in a variety of ways, such as providing meals to shut-ins and respite to those in need.  Community members complete a two part, 16-hour certification training where they learn leadership, community building, team building, resource pooling and peer support skills.  They also learn what is happening at the local and state level in the areas of family preservation and family support.

Family Support America
20 North Wacker Drive, Suite 1100
Chicago, IL 60606
Phone: 312-338-0900 Fax: 312-338-1522

Strong advocate for family support efforts nationally, statewide, and locally. Providing resources, training and technical assistance.

Family Voices
3411Candelana, NE, Suite H
Albuquerque, NM 87107
Phone: 505-872-4774 or 888-835-5669 Fax: 505-872-4780

National grassroots organization of families and friends speaking on behalf of children with special health care needs. Founded by parents who developed national and state family networks and organizations to improve the health and education systems that serve their children. Goal is to help shape national, state, and local health care policy and practice in private and public health care systems by:

  • Supporting a national network of volunteer regional and state coordinators who provide information to families and policymakers.
  • Serving as a clearinghouse to keep its members informed about health care issues
  • Forming partnerships with professionals and other state and national organizations to make sure the voices of families are heard. Is a FRCA partner in disseminating guidelines for health supervision of children and adolescents.

Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health
1101 King Street, Suite 420
Alexandria, VA 22314
Phone: 703-684-7710 Fax: 703-836-1040

National parent-run organization focused on the needs of children and youth with emotional, behavioral, or mental disorders and their families. Serves as a catalyst for change by promoting partnerships among family members, professionals, and other interested citizens to improve services for children with emotional, behavioral, or mental disorders. Also provides leadership training of parents in advocacy and community outreach.

The Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Family Resource Institute
PO Box 2525
Lynnwood, WA 98036
Phone: 800-999-3429 or 235-531-2878 Fax: 253-531-2668

National organization that works with parents and professionals to help them identify, understand, and care for individuals with fetal alcohol syndrome and prenatal alcohol related disabilities.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD)
511 E. John Carpenter Freeway, Suite 700
Irving, TX 75062
Phone: 800-438-6233

Parent-led organization that trains parents to get involved in schools and talk to the media to advocate against drunk driving. MADD parents serve on public, law enforcement, and legislative advisory boards and aid in establishing local and county initiatives and task forces. Parents provide victim assistance and conduct outreach. Workshops and publications available.

Voices for America’s Children
1522 K Street, NW, Suite 600
Washington, DC 20005
Phone: 202-289-0777 Fax: 202-289-0776

Advocacy organization dedicated to securing the safety, health, and education of children by building and strengthening state and community-based child advocacy organizations. Engages in advocacy work with policy-makers and the media.

National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)
1509 16th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036-1426
Phone: 800-424-2460 or 202-232-8777 Fax: 202-328-1846

Largest membership organization of early childhood professionals. Works to increase public understanding and support for high-quality programs for young children and their families through public policy and public education initiatives. Collaborates with media representatives and government representatives at all levels to advocate for services for children and families.

National Coalition for Parent Involvement in Education
C/o National Community Education Association
3929 Old Lee Highway, Suite 91A
Fairfax, VA 22030-2401
Phone: 703-359-8973 Fax: 703-359-0972

Advocates for the involvement of parents in their children’s education and fosters relationships among home, school, and community that enhance young people’s education. Is a collaboration of education, community, and public service organizations nationwide. Provides information on publications, training, and services available.

National Network of Partnership Schools
Johns Hopkins University
Center on School, Family, and Community Partnerships
3003 North Charles Street, Suite 200
Baltimore, MD 21218
Phone: 410-516-8818 Fax: 410-516-8890

An essential component of school organization that influence student development and learning by helping schools develop and maintain programs of partnerships with parents.

Parents Anonymous
675 West Foothill Blvd, Suite 200
Claremont, CA 91711-3475
Phone: 909-621-6184 Fax: 909-625-6304

National organization that provides technical assistance and training on a variety of leadership skills for parents. Trains parents to train other parents to operate mutual support groups. Based on a vision that establishing parent input, leadership, and mutual support are essential components in strengthening families and preventing child abuse and neglect.

Parents as Teachers
2228 Ball Drive
St. Louis, MO 63132
Phone: 314-432-4330 or 888-728-4968 Fax: 314-432-8963

PAT trains parents to be parent educators in its nationally replicated program to provide parents with the information and support they need to give their children the best possible start in life. Parents become certified to conduct home visits, coordinate group meetings, conduct developmental screenings, and link parents with providers of service and support. Parent educators work in partnership with the school and the community. Offers a variety of training and technical assistance.

Partnership for Family Involvement in Education
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, S.W.
Washington, DC 20202-8173
Phone: 202-401-2000 Fax: 202-205-9133

Seeks to encourage the development of family-school-community partnerships to promote children’s learning and improve education. Committed to improving local schools and increasing family involvement in education.


Additional Online Resources

National PTA
330 N Wabash Avenue, Suite 2100
Chicago, IL 60611
Phone: 312-670-6782 or 800-307-4782 Fax: 312-670-6783

Web site of the National Congress of Parents and Teachers provides information for parents, teachers, students, principals, administrators, and others interested in uniting the forces of home, school, and community on behalf of children and youth.

Head-Start Bureau

Web site maintained by the Head Start Bureau as an electronic resource for Head Start service providers, parents, volunteers, community organizations, and others, who share an interest in helping children look forward to a brighter future.

Parent Training & Information Centers
Alliance National Center
8161 Normandale Blvd.
Minneapolis, MN 55437
Phone: 888-248-0822

Provides a list of parent training and information centers in the United States. The majority of the centers serve the entire state, others are community-based and serve more local areas.

Intercultural Development Research Association
5835 Callaghan Road, Suite 350
San Antonio, TX 78228-1190
Phone: 210-444-1710 Fax: 210-444-1714

IDRA is a vanguard leadership development and research team working with people to create self-renewing schools that value and empower all children, families and communities.

Family Resource, Information, Education and Network Development Service

FRIENDS is the National Resource Center for the Community Based Family Resource and Support Program, under a cooperative agreement with the Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children, Youth and Families, and the Office on Child Abuse and Neglect. The CBFRS program was established by Title II of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act Amendments of 1996. The purpose of the CBFRS program is to support state efforts to create and support a statewide network of community-based, family-centered, prevention-focused family resource and support programs, in order to strengthen families and reduce the incidence of child abuse and neglect.

National Center on Fathers and Families
University of Pennsylvania
3440 Market Street, Suite 450
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Phone: 215-573-5500

NCOFF’s primary goals are to: Expand the knowledge base on father involvement, family efficacy and child well-being, within multiple disciplines through research and development, integrated discussion, and information building, to strengthen practice through practitioner-targeted conversations, information dissemination, and collaborative activities and to contribute to critical policy discussions by creating a coherent agenda of work that is built around existing and emerging local, state and federal efforts.



--Empowerment and Family Support, Moncrieff Cochran, editor, 1995, 167pp.

From leading researchers in the parent empowerment movement comes this compilation of two years’ worth of a networking bulletin published by members of the Cornell Empowerment Group.  Articles offer research findings and program models to show how family support can empower families, especially low-income families, to meet the challenges that face them.  Special topics include childcare and the empowerment process, redefining the professional role, and a global view of empowerment and family support.

Published by: Cornell Empowerment Group

Available from: Family Support America - - phone: 312-338-0900


--Putting Parent Engagement into Action, Anthony Williams, 2002, 41pp.

This book provides concrete ways to bring about increased meaningful participation of parents to make families and communities stronger.

Published by and Available from:
Family Support America - - phone: 312-338-0900


--Every Voice Counts: Holding a Shared Leadership Event to Make Decisions Together, Family Support America, 2003, 96pp.

This book describes in detail how you can plan and host a shared leadership event.

Published by and Available from:
Family Support America - - phone: 312-338-0900


--Learning from Colleagues: Family/Professional Partnerships Moving Forward Together, Peer Technical Assistance Network Writing team: Jane Adams, Charlie Bliss, Valerie Burrell Mohammad, Judith Meyers, and Elaine Slaton, 1998, 51pp.

This document presents research and commentary on the issues involved in utilizing a family/professional partnership systems approach in situations involving children who have developed or are at risk of developing serious emotional, behavioral, or mental health disturbances and their families.

Published by and Available from:
Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health - phone: 703-684-7710


--Learning to Be Partners, Lynn E. Pooley, Flora Woratschek, and Jeanne Williams, eds. (Family Support America, Center for Assessment and Policy Development, and University of Pittsburgh Office of Child Development), 1997, 250pp.

This ready-to-use training program contains a week’s worth of activities, handouts, discussion ideas, and mini-lectures to help staff begin to develop the skills and knowledge they need to act as true partners with families. Written by a team of seasoned practitioners, trainers, and researchers, the curriculum uses group experience rather than “classroom” learning, active participation, hands-on practice, and peer interaction and sharing. With this detailed road map, the trainer can guide staff who are new to family support through a validating and supportive training experience.

Published by and Available from:
Family Support America - - phone: 312-338-0900


--National Standards for Parent/Family Involvement Programs, National PTA, 1998, 42pp.

Developed by the PTA in cooperation with education and parent involvement professionals, these standards-communicating, parenting, student learning, volunteering, school decision making and advocacy, and collaborating with community-were created to be used in conjunction with other national standards and reform initiatives in support of children’s learning and success.

Published by and Available from:
National PTA - - phone: 312-670-6782


--Partnerships for Change, 1997, 2 videos plus 50-page guide

This video-supported training program stresses partnership, shared decision-making, local governance, and collaboration. Staff members and parents undergo training together and gain skills in identifying strengths, communicating needs, and reaching out to others in the community. Available in Spanish and English.

Published by:
Family Communications, Inc., and University of Pittsburgh Office of Child Development

Available from:
Family Support America - - 312-338-0900


--Engaging New Leadership Voices for Catalyzing and Sustaining Community Change

Leaders make change. The kind of change that leaders make depends on who is at the table when priorities are set and decisions are made that have an impact on the social and economic well-being of individuals and communities. Too often decisions are made that have a profound impact on people’s lives without significantly including them in the decision-making process.

Published by and Available from:
Leadership Online -