Family Engagement and Cultural Responsiveness

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The presence of family engagement is highly instrumental in education systems. The levels at which a student’s family is engaged in their curriculum can be directly linked to overall performance. Once families are in the loop and an active member of their child’s educational journey, they’re more in tune with their child’s potential needs and can help with their experience. Although some families do not necessarily have issues being active in their child’s education, there are very real and present obstacles for some Maine families. This can look like a few different things: language barriers, having to be at work, low socioeconomic status, childcare needs, etc.

To ensure our attempts in widespread family engagement are successful we must acknowledge that all families need different approaches. As the Maine Department of Education, it is difficult to assume there is any one way to reach an audience. When thinking about the audience of the families of our students, we must try even harder to navigate ways to clearly and actively communicate and have a greater understanding. With the diversity present in our school systems now, it is far too easy to let families with different backgrounds fall through the cracks. For example, the newsletter of the week not being translated further isolates a population due to language barriers.

Core Beliefs about Family Engagement in Schools: 

  • The essential core beliefs include the following:
  • All families have dreams for their children and want the best for them. ​
  • All families can support their children’s learning.​
  • ​Families and school staff are equal partners. ​
  • The shared responsibility for cultivating and sustaining partnerships is among school, home, and community.​


Upcoming Learning Opportunities

Family Engagement Learning Series Briefs by the US Department of Education


To engage families, we need to:

  • Build relationships with students and collaborate with families to support student learning
  • Understand your student's and their family’s needs
  • Create a family night in your school
  • Try to accept and/or adapt to cultural norms that are not your own
  • Examine existing beliefs and biases about families and view trauma from a family standpoint
  • Practice culturally responsive teaching
  • Validate your family’s struggles
  • Try to keep language open and nonjudgmental
Resources and Tools

You may find this resource in the Race and National Origin Discrimination section of Education’s Office for Civil Rights’ (OCR) Reading Room, in English, Chinese-simplified, Chinese-traditional, Korean, Tagalog, and Vietnamese, with additional translations expected later this month.

Toolkit Family Engagement

Newcomer Tool Kit

Unite for Literacy: 

"At Unite for Literacy, we picture a world where all children have access to an abundance of books that celebrate their languages and cultures and cultivate a lifelong love of reading.

Unite for Literacy has developed the platform, publishing tools, and systems-based strategies that support our public and private sector partners to change the literacy landscape of their communities and optimize the future for all their young children. Our projects build home libraries and support families to develop a daily habit of reading, both of which are key factors in growing lifelong readers."



**Links to organizations and resources are for reference and information only and do not imply endorsement by the Maine Department of Education. **

USDOE Mission:

Raising the next generation is a shared responsibility. When families, communities and schools work together, students are more successful and the entire community benefits. For schools and districts across the U.S., family engagement is becoming an integral part of education reform efforts. 



Family Engagement & Cultural Responsibility SpecialistEmail: