What We Do
Decades of research shows that genuine, reciprocal relationships are the foundation on which educators and families can overcome educational obstacles. Adapting to the remote learning environment introduced new challenges and a magnified need for strong connection families, often requiring time, training and skills (especially language) beyond the capacity of teachers.
Family engagement takes different forms based on individual community and school needs. Common CIS family and caregiver engagement activities include:
- Family check-ins
- Porch visits (socially-distanced home visits during remote schooling)
- Digital engagement
- Culturally-responsive support
- Connection to community resources
- Information sharing
- Basic needs support as point of connection
Since the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, CIS-VA has been assessing how we can best adapt our in-school program delivery model and data evaluation to what could be long-lasting variations in school format and scheduling. Communication with the commonwealth’s public education leaders revealed one common top concern for superintendents and principals across the state -- family engagement.
CIS’s strong relationships and consistent contact with so many of the most vulnerable students have established critical trust that positions us well to contribute to innovation, information and long-term solutions in the area of family engagement. As CIS’s traditional model relied on the hub of the school building to drive student and family communication, adapted family engagement will require organizational and individual shifts that will benefit from network-wide collaboration, training and new guidelines for reporting and measuring impact.
CIS-VA is investing in designing a new paradigm for family engagement by leveraging CIS’s relationship-based model to pursue innovation and expansion in family engagement that provides support during COVID-19 transitions and beyond, creating a lasting foundation of connectivity between students, caregivers, teachers and school supports.
In 2020, we have:
- Engaged a director of family engagement, as well as a part-time family support specialist to leverage existing relationships and effective programming in Richmond and Petersburg public preschools, ultimately developing a pilot program of CIS-driven family support
- Engaged site coordinators network-wide in enhanced training in delivering family engagement supports at all school levels
- Adapted our systems and practices for documenting family engagement efforts in order to make
- Had strong representation in workgroups, pilot programs and trainings on the national CIS level (24 total individual points of engagement), positioning CIS-VA as a leader among the national network data-driven recommendations for replicable, long-term program & support delivery throughout the state.