In order for families and communities to become informed about and involved in children's education at school and at home, partnerships must be viewed as an essential component of school and classroom organization. No longer an optional activity or a matter of public relations, school, family, and community partnerships are essential for student learning and success in school. It takes time, organization, and effort to develop a good program.Family-School-Community Partnerships Program
Based on the research of Dr. Joyce Epstein at the National Network of Partnership Schools of Johns Hopkins University, this model provides a school action team framework using the six components of successful parent involvement in schools that lead to increased student achievement (parenting, communication, learning at home, volunteering, decision making, and community partnerships). The VISTA volunteers sponsored through the DPI are integral to this project. In addition, Parents Plus staff, in collaboration with the DPI, will help support, coordinate and facilitate the annual statewide "Family/School/Community Partnership" conference that promotes and educates parents and professionals about parent involvement activities as specified under the No Child Left Behind Act.
VISTA Volunteer Project
The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) sponsors approximately ten Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) housed at Parents Plus to provide services to meet the Education Department's federal grant requirements. These full time, predominantly college degreed volunteers undertake a variety of functions including improving and participating in the Family/School/Community Partnerships program, the Poverty Trainings, and the Parent Workshops. They are committed to increasing parent involvement in children's education and increasing student success with the broader goal of reducing poverty. Parents Plus oversees and coordinates all the DPI sponsored VISTA volunteers in the region.
A Framework for Understanding Poverty
Based on the research of Dr. Ruby Payne and her book, "A Framework for Understanding Poverty", these are six hour trainings for school personnel who serve low income students and families. This training teaches the "Hidden Rules" of poverty and offers teachers effective tools to engage and teach students from poverty. It also presents successful strategies for teachers in how to relate to parents of low income students. Parents Plus staff has also been trained in "Getting Ahead in a Just Gettin' By World", a similar training for families living in poverty
Parents with Voices Program
Parents Plus has developed a parent leadership workshop entitled "Parents with Voices" that is based on experience as a Parental Information and Resource Center (PIRC) since 1995. This program has been very successful in empowering parents to be active participants on school teams and advocates for their children. The program includes communication, problem solving, team building, advocacy, and leadership skills training.
Parents Plus staff has developed three trainings for parents and families which bring parents into the school and encourages learning at home. The first, "Math & Science Family Nights," is a nationally validated program that is aligned with state standards and is extremely effective in increasing parent involvement. This program creates opportunities for parents, educators and students to work together on problem solving, improving communication skills and considering future goals. "Project Play" which is a series of family literacy workshops includes a variety of topics that incorporate hands-on activities, family reading times, the value of play and many other topics. "Your Child's Amazing Brain" workshops, conducted in family resource centers and at schools, provide information to families on their child's brain development and what they as parents can do to optimize learning from birth and "Creating Successful Children " promotes social emotional competence by building relationships and constructing supportive environments for children.
Parent Involvement and Special Needs Workshops
Parents Plus, in collaboration with the services of Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council, provides workshops and information to 11 Wisconsin tribes to families with special needs children. These workshops present information on such topics as the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Individualized Education Plans, and Child Advocacy along with other resources and services available to eligible families.
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“I learned the importance of being more involved as kids get older – not less.”
-Partners in Education training participant
“I will be as involved in my children’s education as possible.”
“Parents Plus Inc. has been an invaluable partner in helping us to grow our Parents as Teachers program and has provided so many great resources in professional development and technical assistance for our staff.”
-Staci Hansen-Sontoski, Family Support Programs Manager
La Causa FRC
"The National Center for PAT is honored to work with Parents Plus, Inc. Their professionalism & strong commitment to bettering the lives of children & families is commendable, as is the collaborative spirit with which they operate."
-Susan S. Stepleton, President & CEO National Center for PAT
"Parents Plus contributions are valuable insights on what parents need to be successful. PPI clearly understands that children grow up in families & families live in communities & it is imperative that we consider this construct when developing systems of support."
-Therese Ahlers, MS, MPA
Director, WI Alliance for Infant Mental Health
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© 2009 Parents Plus, Inc. | Wisconsin's Parental Information Resource Center (PIRC)
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