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Thursday, January 18th, 2018

Let the World Know You are a Family Friendly School or Organization!

Family friendly schools and organizations reach out to all the families they serve on an ongoing basis. They build strong connections with families by creating welcoming environments, communicating effectively, collaborating with families on decisions regarding children’s education, and speak up for every child.

Let others know you are  a family friendly school or organization. PA PIRC will gladly send you posters without charge that lets other know the ways in which you support your families. To order posters, please contact the PA PIRC office at (717) 763-1661 or



Family Friendly Organization Standards, Goals and Indicators for Family-School-Community Partnerships*


Standard 1

Welcoming All Families into the Organization or School Community

Families are active participants in the life of the school or organization and feel welcomed, valued and connected to each other, to staff members and to what children are learning and doing.


Goal 1: Creating a Welcoming Climate

When families walk into the building, do they feel it is inviting and a place where they “belong”?

  • Developing personal relationships
  • Creating a family-friendly atmosphere
  • Providing opportunities for volunteering


Goal 2: Building a Respectful, Inclusive Community

Do the school or organization policies and programs reflect, respect and value the diversity of the families in the community?

  • Respecting all families
  • Removing economic obstacles to participation
  • Ensuring accessible programming



Standard 2

Supporting Child and Youth Development and Success

Families and staff members continuously collaborate to support children’s learning and healthy development both at home and at school, and have regular opportunities to strengthen their knowledge and skills to do so effectively.


Goal 1: Sharing Information about Children’s Progress

Do families know and understand how well their children are growing and succeeding?

Do families know how well the entire school/organization is progressing?

  • Ensuring parent-staff member communication about children’s growth and progress
  • Linking student progress to standards
  • Using standardized assessments/test results to increase achievement
  • Sharing progress about the school or organization
  • Providing opportunities for parents to learn about typical child development through informal interactions with teachers, more formal parent education classes, or opportunities to observe staff working with their children


Goal 2: Supporting Learning by Engaging Families

Are families an active participant in their children’s learning?

  • Engaging in all types of learning
  • Developing abilities to strengthen learning at home
  • Encouraging after-school learning
  • Setting high expectations
  • Understanding their children’s learning and educational needs
  • Promoting life-long learning


Goal 3: Supporting Social and Emotional Development and Promoting Protective Factors that Build Resiliency

Does the school or organization promote the healthy social and emotional development of children?

Does the school or organization promote the development of protective factors in children and youth as well as with family members and staff?

  • Teaching children social skills, such as sharing and being respectful of others
  • Teaching children emotional skills, such as expressing feelings and verbalizing emotion
  • Setting clear and consistent boundaries
  • Providing unconditional support
  • Having trained staff identify, respond quickly to and talk with parents about possible problems
  • Providing opportunities for meaningful engagement within the community
  • Providing concrete supports in times of need



Standard 3

Communicating Effectively

Families and staff members engage in regular, two-way, meaningful communication about children’s learning and successes or challenges families may be facing.


Goal 1: Sharing Information between School/Organization and Families

Does the school or organization keep all families informed about important issues and events and make it easy for families to communicate with staff members?

  • Using multiple communication paths
  • Surveying families to identify issues and concerns
  • Having access to administrators
  • Providing information on current issues
  • Facilitating connections among families


Goal 2: Supporting Parental Resilience

Are staff trained and expected to help parents’ build emotional resilience so they are better able to maintain a positive attitude, creatively solve problems and rise to the challenges in their lives?

  • Creating trusting relationships with parents
  • Providing times and opportunities for these relationships to flourish, both inside and outside of the normal day
  • Providing encouragement and support in solving problems



Standard 4

Speaking Up for Every Child

Families are empowered to be advocates for their own and other children, to ensure that children are treated fairly and have access to learning opportunities that will support their success.


Goal 1: Social Connections

Do parents have the opportunity to build constructive friendships and other positive connections through the school or organization?

  • Socialization activities for parents and their children that will help to reduce isolation and provide opportunities for mutual assistance and learning
  • Helping parents connect with organizations and resources outside the program, for example, finding a church or children’s group
  • Special outreach and activities for fathers, grandparents and other extended family members
  • Understand familial cultural differences, educate families on how to work together effectively for student success


Goal 2: Understanding How the School System, Child Care System and Other Service Systems Works

Do parents know how the local school and district operate and how to raise questions or concerns about school and district programs, policies and activities?

Do they understand their rights and responsibilities under federal and state law as well as local ordinances and policies?

Do they understand how to access child care services?

Do families know how to obtain protective services, nutritional supports, health care and other basic services and supports?

  • Understanding how the school and district operate
  • Understanding rights and responsibilities under federal and state laws
  • Learning about resources
  • Accessing services and meeting basic needs
  • Resolving problems and conflicts


Goal 3: Empowering Families to Support Their Own and Other Children’s Growth and Success

Are parents prepared to monitor children’s progress and guide them toward their goals from birth, in pre-school settings into kindergarten through high school graduation, postsecondary education, and a career?

Are all partners supported to be advocates for children and youth?

  • Developing families’ capacity to be effective advocates
  • Planning for the future
  • Smoothing transitions
  • Engaging in civic advocacy for student achievement



Standard 5

Sharing Power

Families and staff members are equal partners in decisions that affect children and families and together inform, influence and create policies, practices and programs.


Goal 1: Strengthening the Family’s Voice in Shared Decision Making

Is every family full partner in making decisions that affect their children within the school or the organization and in the community? 

  • Having a voice in all decisions that affect children
  • Addressing equity issues
  • Developing parent leadership


Goal 2: Building Families’ Social and Political Connections

Do families have a strong, broad-based organization that offers regular opportunities to develop relationships and raise concerns with school leaders, public officials and business and community leaders?

  • Connecting families to local officials
  • Developing an effective parent involvement organization that represents all families



Standard 6

Decision Making and Collaboration among Partners

Families, staff and community members collaborate to connect children, families and staff to expanded learning opportunities, community services, civic participation and concrete supports in times of need.


Goal 1: Connecting with Community Partners

Do parents, school leaders, community organizations, businesses and institutions of higher education work closely together in order to strengthen and build a family-friendly community?

  • Linking with community resources
  • Organizing support from community partners
  • Partnering with community groups to develop goals and strategies around strengthening families and supporting child growth and success
  • Including parents as a voice in community partnerships


Goal 2: Promoting Safe and Stable Families

Does the school or organization provide assistance and support to parents that will enable them to maintain a safe and stable environment for their children?

  • Linking family members to community resources that provide immediate assistance in the event of a crisis as well as support their economic self-sufficiency and security
  • Initiating contact or inviting conversation when staff suspect a family problem or emergency
  • Supporting the family throughout a crisis
  • Promoting economic development in the community


Goal 3: Cross-Systems Professional Development

Does staff participate in ongoing learning opportunities that build staff capacity and expand their knowledge of child and family issues across systems?

  • Providing professional development opportunities both inside and outside the school/organization using a variety of delivery methods, for example, group workshops, webinars, etc.
  • Partnering with other schools or organizations from different child- and family-serving systems to provide extended learning opportunities for staff

Goal 4: Continuous Learning

Do staff and partners research effective policies and practices and use data to inform decisions?

  • Evaluating policies, practices and programs on a regular basis with input from multiple stakeholders
  • Creating a community of lifelong learners among all partners
  • Promoting a safe learning environment for all



* Framework modified from PTA National Standards with permission Language adapted from the Center for the Study of Social Policy’s Strengthening Families Protective Factors Framework



Click here to download a PDF version of these Standards.