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Reframing Family Engagement

Search Institute has identified key shifts that can energize how schools and organizations partner with families. 6 Shifts: Where Is Your School or Organization? is a self-reflection tool that helps to examine your school or organization’s default mindsets and practices, identifying opportunities to explore and strengthen.

6 Shifts: Where Is Your School or Organization?

It can be challenging for leaders and practitioners to engage and partner with families. It might appear that too many families are too busy or overwhelmed, uninterested, or simply unavailable and unable to be resources for their kids. In reality, we’ve identified dozens of challenges — practical barriers, attitudes and expectations, and institutional barriers — that make family engagement difficult.

We’ve identified six shifts of emphasis that can help recognize these barriers and energize how your organization works with families.

  1. A shift from focusing all resources on one developmental period and one setting (child care) towards engaging families across multiple transitions and settings.
  2. A shift from focusing on families’ deficits, risks, or dysfunction to building on families' strengths and resilience.
  3. A shift from recruiting families to participate in programs to deepening mutual, trusting relationships with families.
  4. A shift from building parenting skills to nurturing relationships within families.
  5. A shift from helping individual families on their own to cultivating relationships among families.
  6. A shift from serving families to empowering families.

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