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Families & Communities

Involved families—from cradle to career—are critical for supporting academic achievement and labor market success.

Research shows that a child’s early years are a vital time for cognitive, social, emotional, and language development. Schools, especially those with large Latino and English Learner populations, benefit from tapping into family and community resources.  Families, care-givers, community-based organizations, local businesses, foundations, faith-based organizations can all work to facilitate student learning.

Families, in particular, equipped with the knowledge to promote child enrichment activities can foster vocabulary development, academic performance, and an overall curiosity for learning.[i]  High quality parent and familial programming have also been shown to improve children’s perceptions about school, increase attendance, and decrease dropout rates.[ii]

Current evidence contends, however, that early childhood and the shift into formal school are times of possible risk for young Latinos and English Learner.[iii] The integration of families into the learning process, particularly through culturally and linguistically responsive programs, is vital to promote school readiness and academic achievement.

The Forum envisions all Latino and immigrant families having the knowledge and skills to support their child’s early education as the foundation for college and career readiness. To meet this overarching goal, the Forum promotes three strategies:

  1. Enhance ability of community-based organizations and school districts to conduct and sustain culturally and linguistically responsive parent engagement programming.
  2. Inform parents of policy change and implications for their children.
  3. Promote parent capacity to engage in advocacy efforts.
For more information on the Forum's Family and Community Capacity-building work, please contact Natalie Vesga.

[i] Dombro, A., Jablon, J., & Stetson, C. (2010). Powerful interactions begin with you. Teaching Young Children, 4(1), 12-14.

Coll, G., Daisuke Akiba, C., Palacios, N., Bailey, B., Silver, R., DiMartino, L., & Chin, C. (2002). Parental involvement in children’s education: Lessons from three immigrant groups. Parenting Science and Practice, 2(3), 303-324.

Henig, J. R. & Reville, S. P. (May 23, 2011). Why attention will return to non-school factors. Education Week, 30(32), 23-28.

Heckman, J. J. (n.d.). Web appendix for The American family in black and white: A post-racial strategy for improving skills to promote equality. Professor James J. Heckman | The University of Chicago. Retrieved April 24, 2012, from http://jenni.uchicago.edu/understanding_b-w_gap/

Heckman, J. J. (n.d.) The Heckman Equation. Invest in early childhood development: Reduce deficits, strengthen economy. Retrieved on April 24, 2012, from www.heckmanequation.org

[ii] Mexican American Legal Defense Fund and National Education Association. (June 2010). Minority parent and community engagement: Best practices and policy recommendations for closing the gaps in student achievement.

[iii] Crosnoe, R. (2010). Two-generation strategies and involving immigrant parents in children’s education. The Urban Institute.

Soltero, S., Soltero J., & Robbins, E. (2010). Latinos and education in the Chicago metropolitan area. Latinos in Chicago: Reflections of An American Landscape. Notre Dame, IN: The Institute for Latino Studies, University of Notre Dame, 67-124.

Espinosa, L. M. (2008). Challenging common myths about young English language learners. Foundation for Child Development. (Policy Brief Advancing PK-3 No. 8). Retrieved on April 24, 2012, from http://fcd-us.org/sites/default/files/MythsOfTeachingELLsEspinosa.pdf