Family and Youth Engagement
Family engagement improves outcomes for both students and schools, including improved student behavior, social skills development, and higher graduation rates. Incorporating caregiver participation into the design of a school responder model increases the likelihood of individual buy-in and engagement of families of referred youth. The following family engagement principles support the authentic engagement of families in a school responder model:
- Caregivers participate throughout the model's design, implementation, and operation processes;
- The lived experiences of families and youth are sought, valued, and inform the program design, implementation, and evolution; and
- Caregivers are more inclined to consent to their youth’s participation in the model when the model reflects their perspective.
Strategies to building family and youth engagement include warm, authentic, and consistent engagement efforts; peer outreach and support from other parents with similar experiences; and addressing barriers to caregiver participation such as attitudes of resistance from school personnel and from families as well as logistical challenges such as inflexible meeting times, transportation issues, and childcare availability.