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Reframing Family Engagement

Search Institute has identified six mindset shifts that reframe and re-energize how schools and organizations partner with families. Use 6 Shifts: Where Is Your School or Organization? to reflect on your school or organization’s default mindsets, which can surface starting points for refreshing your partnerships with families.

6 Shifts: Where Is Your School or Organization?

Partnering with families is a key strategy for the success of schools, youth organizations, social service agencies, faith communities, and others who have a stake in young people’s well-being and thriving. Yet building those partnerships with families can be challenging.

Before assuming that the solution to creating family partnerships is for families just to do their part, it’s important for leaders, staff, and volunteers in schools and other organizations to reflect on how their views on families and family partnership may be helping or hindering strong, positive connections between their organization and families.

Too often, our mindset about families and their roles in organizations and in their children’s lives can get in the way of a strong, mutual partnership.

Through our research, the research of others, and our work with hundreds of practitioners, we’ve identified six mindset shifts that are vital to make to form a strong, relationship-centered partnership with families that can overcome challenging barriers and energize your work with families:

  1. A shift from focusing disproportionately on one developmental period and one setting (in this case, preschool child care) toward engaging families across multiple transitions and settings.
  2. A shift from focusing on families’ deficits, risks, or dysfunction toward building on families’ strengths, including their resilience in the face of challenges.
  3. A shift from recruiting families to participate in programs toward deepening mutual, trusting relationships with families.
  4. A shift from building parenting skills toward nurturing relationships within families.
  5. A shift from helping individual families on their own toward cultivating relationships among families.
  6. A shift from serving families toward activating families to lead.

Tool / Playbook

Reframing Family Engagement

Resource Audience

Youth Program Leaders Teachers School / Youth Program Staff School / Youth Organization Leaders

Resource Type

Tool / Playbook Measure / Assessment / Evaluation

Read Time

Under 5 Minutes


Teachers Youth Program Leaders School / Youth Program Staff School or Organization Leaders