Save the Children US (SCUS) already has a robust early childhood intervention program that supports parents of children aged zero to three in 190 predominately rural schools with language development and parent-school connections by focusing on parents as children's first educators. As their 2012 CGI America commitment, SCUS will expand its parent engagement to children in grades K-6 providing tools to parents for at-home learning as well as connecting parents to afterschool programs in order to further strengthen parents' involvement with their children's language development. Specifically, Save the Children will engage 5,000 parents in their children's literacy development working in 100 rural elementary schools across 17 states by June 2013. SCUS will recruit parents of children enrolled in their afterschool program. The Family Engagement project is designed to reinforce the essential role parents have in their children reading at grade level with a particular focus on the third grade, which is widely considered an indicator for completion of high school and future academic proficiency.
Below are the products, education, and services that will be produced or delivered as means to achieving the objectives of this commitment:
1. Provide parents with the skills and knowledge that they need to effectively support their children at home. Specifically, knowledge of:
a) Key behaviors related to parent engagement with the school
b) Positive parenting techniques
c) Effective strategies to support children's academic achievement at home
d) The critical effect that their involvement has on their children's achievement.
2. Provide parents with good-quality resources (materials, supplies, and tools) that help them to work with their children at home.
3. Establish effective processes for communicating with parents.
4. Increase the number of good quality parenting/family events available at school and help parents overcome potential barriers in traveling to schools through incentives such as gas vouchers.
5. Enhance afterschool staff capacity to deliver an increased quantity of good quality afterschool program services that encourage parent involvement, such as reading celebration events, parent networking meetings, and school-parent discussion groups.
Below are the expected or necessary changes needed in parent knowledge, attitude, skills, and behavior to contribute to the commitment's desired impact:
1. Parents increasingly understand the importance of, and value in, supporting their children's academic endeavors, know how to effectively provide this support and are able to do so. (knowledge and skills)
2. Parents increasingly believe that increasing their involvement in their children's education will have positive results on their child's future. (attitudes)
3. Parents increasingly feel welcomed, valued and connected to afterschool program staff. (attitudes)
4. Parents increasingly provide skilled support for their children's learning at home. (skills and behavior)
5. Parents increase their involvement in afterschool activities and events. (behavior and behavioral intentions)
Note: At this stage, a lack of baseline data precludes including specific numerical or percentage targets in these objectives. Future versions of these objectives will be more specific and measurable.
In the first year, Save the Children US will be setting a baseline for indicators using a variety of surveys, documentation, and available pre- and post-test tools.
By December, 2012, SCUS will have identified the 100 schools to launch this expansion, and by June 2013 the program will be launched across 17 states.
As children mature, parents may increasingly use complex sentences, narrative structures and diverse vocabulary. Children who experience this kind of instruction at home have larger vocabularies and greater syntactic and narrative skills than do children whose parents do not enact such instruction. Differences in children's oral language skills emerge as crucial once children have mastered basic decoding and the focus shifts to reading comprehension around the second and third grades.
A New Wave of Evidence, was published in 2002 finding that students with involved parents, regardless of background or income, were more likely to: have higher grades and test scores; participate in higher level courses; pass their classes, earn credits, and be promoted; attend school regularly; demonstrate good social skills and behavior; adapt well to the school environment; and graduate and enroll in postsecondary education.
Save the Children U.S. Programs welcomes the opportunity to secure funding partners and family engagement partners for this work. Engaging parents and families in rural settings takes on an especially challenging obstance of access: physical access due to geography, financial access to accommodate transportation, and technology access given connectivity in rural settings. To overcome these challenges, SCUS seeks resources to enhance and extend the incentives required to support family engagement to improve educational supports at home and school.