The resources on this page offer a range of insights, tools, and strategies for foundations, organizations, programs, policymakers, and others to engage parents.

    Core to the values and vision of whole family, multi-generational work is the critical importance of elevating parent voice and significant engagement of parents in program and policy design.

    Because many policies and programs were designed with good intention but without parent input and oversight, they have unintentionally created challenges for parents and families. And because policies have lacked a racial or gender equity lens and have not included the voices of parents representing their communities, disparities continue to persist. In the past decade, there is a growing consensus that engaging and supporting parents in ways that are culturally and racially sensitive  is critical to improving outcomes for families.

    There are many ways in which parents can and should be engaged in philanthropy, program, and policy:

    • On Boards of Directors, to guide the overall vision and strategy of both philanthropy and organizations
    • On Advisory Committees, to shape program and policy, oversee progress, and offer accountability for results
    • On grantmaking committees, to decide how investments are made
    • As leaders in policy work, offering lived experience, insights, and ideas to improving how public systems operate

    These roles can and do exist in both the public sector, in state and local agencies; and in the private sector, within philanthropy and organizations.

    This page offers resources to guide philanthropy, programs, and policymakers to engage parents more deeply in their work with the goal of improving outcomes for families because parent voice has helped shape and oversee programs and policies.

    Resources for Foundations

    Resources for Organizations

    Ascend at the Aspen Institute on Parent Engagement

    Parent engagement is at the heart of two-generation approaches. Parents are the experts in their own lives, and therefore experts on the policies, practice, research, and systems change essential to supporting them. There are several approaches one can take in engaging parents in informing 2Gen efforts, but starting from a set of principles is critical.

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    Parent engagement assessment tool

    The Annie E. Casey Foundation, as part of its two-generation work, created an assessment tool for programs to assess their engagement with parents and to offer organizations ideas on how to deepen parent involvement.

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    Parent Engagement and Leadership

    This factsheet from the FRIENDS National Resource Center for Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention (CBCAP) summarizes the principles, benefits, and strategies for parent engagement and leadership.

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    Resources from Connecticut

    The Connecticut Commission on Children, a commission of the Connecticut Legislature, has engaged parents for many years, both through its Parent Leadership Training Institute and with action to bring parent voice to the center of Connecticut policymaking.

    Parent Involvement Checklist

    Consumer involvement from parents benefits programs and policies for children. Parent interest can improve quality, enhance staff and teacher morale, expand networks, increase public access, and enrich public awareness of children’s issues. The following checklist offers steps to building parents as on-going partners with agencies and schools.

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    State and Local partnerships with parents

    Parents can partner with community agencies to improve child outcomes. Yet, most parents do not perceive themselves as a constituency and often lack the civic skills necessary for public impact. Similarly, most agencies do not know how to involve parents substantively in child policy or community development.

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    “But I’m Just A Parent” – Parent Leadership Is About Democracy

    There is a critical gap between parental desire to improve conditions for children and capacity. The lack of skills is not from disinterest but from a missing tool kit, a democracy tool kit that might offer the specific skills of how to create change in policy and leadership within a civic context. When the tools of democracy are understood, parents will enter civic life.

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    Evaluating Impact