Policies that Support SWIFT Trusting Family Partnerships

Did you know: Research shows that family engagement is a strong predictor of positive student outcomes both in the short term and long term, in the form of benefits to students, families, educational systems, and communities! These improved student outcomes include positive gains in literacy and math, as well as reductions in disciplinary actions and in-school suspensions. Many schools, however, do not know the best ways for fostering partnerships with families.

Education leaders in Massachusetts developed six family engagement goals which we highlight in the SWIFT Issue Brief, " Policies that Support SWIFT Trusting Family Partnerships ." These goals are:

1) Involve parents in the development of school improvement plans
2) Provide schools with the supports necessary to plan and implement effective parent involvement activities
3) Build school's and parents' capacity for strong parental involvement
4) Integrate parental involvement strategies between programs, such as Head Start, Early Reading First, etc.
5) Conduct an annual evaluation with parents on the effectiveness of parental involvement policies
6) Involve parents in school acitivies and communicate with them in ways and languages they understand.

For more information on family-school partnership policies and how they exist within the five SWIFT Domains, read this SWIFT Issue Brief .
Strike Up the Band - Ryan and the Family/Community Connection

Martha Blue-Banning was part of a research team that visited several schools selected by the SWIFT Center that demonstrated strong inclusive educational practices. In addition, Martha facilitated focus groups with families of children with and without disabiities who attended these schools. She asked the family members in these focus groups what they thought fostered trusting family partnerships with school staff, and the strongest message that was repeated time and again focused on the culture of the school. Families said that trusting partnerships with educators thrived because their schools were communities of openness, acceptance, and appreciation where everyone, including students, had a sense of belonging.

Martha compares these school/family partnerships with the inclusive educational experience of her son Ryan in her SWIFT Talk blog post , "Strike Up the Band - Ryan and the Family/Community Connection."

"Being valued and belonging did not have to be earned; they were the unconditional rights of those who were a part of the school community."

-Martha Blue-Banning
Why Inclusive Education?

Are you new to the SWIFT Family/Community Newsletter? Do you have questions about inclusive education? 30 years of study shows us that when ALL students are learning together they ALL do better. This means even students with the most needs do better in their grade-level, when they are given the right support. To help with the basics on inclusive education, we answer the most frequently asked questions for you here .
SWIFT Center has the latest and most relevant resources on equity-based inclusive education. Please share these with your family and community networks to promote improved social, educational, and behavioral outcomes for ALL students! If this SWIFT Family & Community Newsletter was shared with you, don’t miss the next one — sign up here to be added to our mailing list. 
SWIFT is a national K-8 technical assistance center that builds school capacity to provide academic and behavioral support to improve outcomes for all students through equity-based inclusion http://www.swiftschools.org/ 
The SWIFT Center produced this document under U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs Grant No. H326Y120005. OSEP Project Officers Grace Zamora Durán and Tina Diamond served as the project officers. The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the positions or policies of the Department of Education. No official endorsement by the U.S. Department of Education of any product, commodity, service or enterprise mentioned in this publication is intended or should be inferred. This product is public domain. Authorization to reproduce it in whole or in part is granted. While permission to reprint this publication is not necessary, the citation should be: SWIFT Center. (2017). SWIFT Family & Community, Issue 6, September 2017. Lawrence, KS: SWIFT Center.

 SWIFT Center
1315 Wakarusa Drive,
Lawrence, KS 66049