Parent Involvement: Building Bridges and Eliminating Barriers

Adopted April 2011 – Family Engagement Commission

The California State PTA believes that a successful future for all children can be ensured only by families, schools, local and state agencies working in partnership with one another. It is in the best interests of children and their educational success that families, organizations and government entities seek ways to reduce or eliminate barriers to parent involvement.

School practices that promote involvement through outreach, programs/operations, engagement, community building, and support services have a statistically significant and direct influence on student success. PTA can help schools build bridges that eliminate barriers to effective parent and community involvement.

There are also circumstantial barriers to effective involvement. Circumstantial barriers refer to conditions and situations that distress the family, which may temporarily or chronically inhibit or impede their ability to perform their engagement roles and responsibilities in the learning, development, and well-being of their children, thereby reducing benefits children might otherwise receive.

Barriers to involvement in the area of basic functioning may include, but are not limited to:

  • Childcare issues
  • Illiteracy/language skills
  • Time demands/stress (i.e., work schedules, appointments, etc., e.g., single parent families, etc.)
  • Crisis (i.e., death, job loss, divorce/separation, accident, homelessness,
  • Lack of financial resources (poverty) (e.g., inability to pay for services, supplies, clothing, alarm clock, etc.)
  • Lack of transportation/mobility
  • Transient in station (i.e., migrant worker, military, etc.)

Barriers to involvement in the area of health (e.g., heath and development issues of the child or any immediate family member, diagnosed or undiagnosed, chronic or otherwise) include, but are not limited to:

  • Illness
  • Disability/special needs
  • Lack of proper nutrition
  • Lack of hygiene
  • Lack of access to regular preventative healthcare
  • Developmental issues
  • Depression
  • Psychological issues/mental illness

Barriers to involvement in the area of community concerns include, but are not limited to:

  • Lack of community safety (i.e., traffic concerns, predators, gangs, etc., e.g., dangerous to walk to or from school)
  • Litigation/lack of access to legal services
  • Substance abuse/addiction
  • Violence in the home
  • Child abuse and neglect (child endangerment)
  • Incarceration/court ordered restrictions
  • Children in dependency or family court system

Since 1897, the PTA has been the voice of those families who felt disenfranchised. PTA must continue to be the voice for these families and reach out and understand the barriers that get in the way of families becoming involved. The National Standards for Family-School Partnership Implementation Guide provides the framework of how families, schools and communities should work together to support student success.

The California State PTA believes that parents are a child’s first teachers and family engagement is essential throughout a child’s educational experience. Research has shown that greater parental involvement in children’s education results in higher levels of student achievement. The State of California has a parent involvement policy that states “Schools that undertake and support strong comprehensive parent involvement efforts are more likely to produce students who perform better than identical schools that do not involve parents.”

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