Data indicates that positive relationships forged between families and schools can promote successful students.
With that in mind, a couple hundred advocates and service-providers are scheduled to meet in Depew Thursday for a Family Engagement Conference. Throughout the day, participants will hear from experts and discuss effective strategies for fostering strong bonds with families.
Susan Barlow, Executive Director of Parent Network of Western New York, told WBFO one of the challenges involves understanding the culture of families that service-providers are dealing with, otherwise known as cultural competence.
“Every family has a different culture. We work with families who have children who have disabilities and that in itself has its own culture in a family.”
Among the scheduled conference speakers: Ken
Braswell, executive director of Fathers Incorporated, who is considered a leading advocate for “responsible fatherhood.” Carlos Garcia, a veteran employee of the New York State Education Department is also expected to share insights into his years of work with programs that aim to increase access for minority and economically disadvantaged students.
In addition to Family Network of Western New York, the conference is being sponsored by EPIC (Every Person Influences Children), thw Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation, Help Me Grow Western New York and SUNY Buffalo State.
Barlow said poverty is among the barriers that can make it difficult to promote family engagement.
“Families are working two and three jobs,” she said. “I think we expect that the family is going to respond to all our calls when we call them. We expect that they will come to all the meetings about their children and that they’re going to understand all the educational lingo or all of the community lingo.”
The conference will be held at Salvatore’s Italian Gardens.