Engaging Families: A Relationships-Based Approach


Too much of today’s conversation about families is about what’s wrong with them: failures and problems, vulnerabilities and stresses, or whether certain types of families are better than others. While the challenges and changes facing families are real, a strength-based approach to engaging, supporting, and empowering families helps them to cope and even thrive.

This workshop builds on new Search Institute research that identifies critical strengths that are relevant to families from different cultures, income levels, and structures. This research becomes a springboard for re-imagining family engagement to focus on celebrating and tapping the strengths of diverse families through building relationships.

This workshop engages participants in exploring how to develop a relationship-based approach to working with families that emphasizes their strengths, capacities, and contributions. It offers strategies for getting started, including practical tools for listening to and building relationships with parents and other family members as the foundation for family engagement efforts.

Who should attend

  • Parenting and family life educators
  • Family involvement coordinators
  • Teachers and school administrators
  • Social service providers
  • Youth workers
  • Staff from family-serving organizations
  • Members of collective impact partnerships and other community coalitions

During this workshop, participants will

  • Discover new Search Institute research on why families matter for youth development.
  • Recognize key strengths in America’s diverse families that really matter for positive development and resilience.
  • Explore the obstacles to engaging families and practical ways to begin addressing them.
  • Identify “rules of engagement” for working with families from a strength- and relationship-based orientation.
  • Gain practical tools to enhance current family engagement efforts with new strategies and processes that shift family engagement from a separate program to becoming an integral part of education and youth development efforts.

As a result of this workshop, participants will

  • Be more intentional in cultivating positive, meaningful relationships with families.
  • Be able to highlight the power of focusing on family strengths to other stakeholders in their organizations and communities.
  • Be able to identify specific opportunities for integrating family strengths into their existing programs and services.

Participants will receive

  • Print materials on family strengths and practical strategies for family engagement.

The workshop is aligned with the following resources from Search Institute

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