Detroit Parent Network and Detroit Public Schools will hold First Birthday events to celebrate big gains in parental involvement

Detroit Parent Network and Detroit Public Schools will hold First Birthday events at their eight Parent Resource Centers soon in honor of DPS parents whose overall attendance at meetings and involvement has increased across the spectrum, according to new data released by the school district today.

As part of the performance-based contract DPS negotiated with the Detroit Parent Network in 2010 after a decision to outsource Parent Engagement initiatives, a major one year deliverable was a 10 percent increase in parent involvement districtwide.

Comparing same-month participation levels for the end of the 2009-10 school year with the current school year, parent engagement levels have already increased by 37%. The district this year has seen more than 19,600 parent visits to Title I district meetings and school parent meetings. Prior to the DPN contract beginning in March 2010, parent engagement data for many schools could not be found.

Other increases include:

  • 46% increase in parents involved in Title 1 meetings
  • 92% of schools have formal parent organizations of record versus 68% last year
  • 77% of schools increased their parent involvement by 10% or above

Well over 10,000 parents have visited DPS’ new parent resource centers since the first center opened last spring.

Attendance has more than tripled in the Parent Resource Centers over break periods when schools were not in session. During the winter break, 75 people participated in workshops, while 229 participated in workshops during spring break.

As part of the DPS Parent Engagement 2.0 program, the first seven of the eight centers opened between April 15-May 6 last year. The Centers, which offered new Academic Toolkits that could be checked out, were open during break weeks to encourage parents and guardians to stay actively involved in their child’s education while school was not in session.

“In a community that has long pinned the struggle of providing quality education for all children on parent disengagement, this year Detroit Public Schools stopped talking about it and started doing something about it, and did so by doing the daily hard work of providing resources and workshops to parents in community settings that have had a singular focus: how to help parents to be better parents,” said Steven Wasko, assistant superintendent for community relations. “As a result, while much more work remains, we have finally moved the dial on parent engagement.”

Parent Engagement 2.0, a Title I initiative, is a plan to increase parent involvement through new school-based Parent Resource Centers, ongoing training camps that focus on parenting, workshops and more. This initiative was developed with input from parents and guardians, community leaders and the Detroit Parent Network. It is funded, in part, with a three-year $1.2 million grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

Detroit Public Schools, through a partnership with Detroit Parent Network, operates eight parent resource centers that are comfortable spaces for parents and guardians to meet. The in-school centers, which are geographically placed across the city, provide training and resources to parents of DPS students, helping them be involved in their children’s education.

The centers are comfortable community gathering spaces equipped with multiple computers as well as phones, sofas, small libraries, play areas for children and more. They offer expert-led workshops, child care, GED support, job training, support groups, MEAP assistance, book clubs, sessions on Title I programs, college information, coffee talks on parent engagement and other offerings. The centers are designed to involve, connect and empower parents to help children reach academic success and serve as a hub for training and resources.

Other initiatives to involve parents have included:

  • Creating a team of Parent Organizers who work with a subset of schools to increase involvement at each site.
  • Going door-to-door to reach parents at critical junctures, such as when the district is merging schools.
  • Launching an incentive program to involve parents including a new Parent Involvement card that functions like a grocery store discount card and tracks parental involvement at the district’s Parent Resources Centers. Parents are eligible for an increasing number of incentives by attending more workshops.

To see upcoming workshops, go to:

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