Giving Compass' Take:

• Ali Miller and Mary Gray recap highlights from the Families at the Center Summit, sharing insights for funders who want to support families. 

• How can you incorporate these practices into your giving? 

• Learn about a family-based care model for children in need

1. Meet families where they are.
A dynamic panel of parent leaders kicked off the Summit, lifting up their individual journeys and sharing suggestions for how systems and policies can better meet the needs of families. At the core of the discussion was the belief that we must meet families where they are. All too often, our institutions assume families will reach out when they need support; however, this assumption overlooks common barriers, such as distrust of systems or parents’ fear of judgment.

2. When you shift from transactional to relational engagement, magic happens.
Authentic family engagement means treating families and parents as partners from the beginning. However, relationships between parents and providers/educators are often transactional.

3. Cross-sector collaboration is key.
To strengthen family engagement efforts across the region, we must take a close look at how we’re collaborating across the early childhood ecosystem. A true systems-level approach to family engagement requires strong communication across organizations, effective strategies for referrals/warm hand-offs, and a shared understanding of core family engagement principles. Participants said having opportunities to connect at places like the Summit could help bridge gaps and create opportunities for agencies to leverage one another’s strengths.

4. Co-create, evaluate and keep track of milestones along the way.
At the Summit’s Learning & Evaluation breakout session, three field leaders discussed strategies for evaluating family engagement efforts and how to include parents in the process. The panel emphasized the importance of working in partnership with families to co-design, implement and evaluate the effectiveness of family engagement strategies.

Read the full article about supporting families by Ali Miller and Mary Gray at Medium.