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Citation:Peterson, T., & Parker, K. (2005). Increasing parental involvement in afterschool programs and community learning centers. Columbia, SC: Afterschool and Community Learning National Resource Network, University of South Carolina.

This paper is based on the premise that family involvement is very important to student educational success. The purpose of this research project is to discover which family outreach and involvement strategies have the most potential from the point of view of afterschool program directors. The four top rated strategies, from a list of 18, were 1) focus on building trusting collaborative relationship among teachers, families, and community members; 2) use various means to communicate with families about their children's education; 3) create an afterschool environment that welcomes parents; and 4) recognize, respect, and address family needs as well as their differences. In addition directors were asked to list their ideas to increase parent involvement. These open-ended responses fell into one of four categories: family and community collaborations (i.e. working with parents and community organizations to increase involvement), family programs and activities (i.e. scheduling regular activities for parents and their children), communication (i.e. informing parents, increasing communication, and getting parents input), and parental needs (i.e. determining parents' needs and try to meet them.) Data came from a survey of directors of afterschool programs, specifically, 21st Century grantees from 15 states. A list of 18 strategies to increase parental involvement in afterschool programs was rated by program directors. The directors also wrote their three best ideas to increase parent involvement in open-ended responses. Afterschool programs tend to be smaller and more flexible, often utilizing community resources. Thus, they are well positioned to help increase families involvement with their children's education. However, research in the area of family involvement and afterschool is much less explored, though of increasing importance. This study investigates which strategies program directors think have the most merit. It does not provide opinions from parents, teachers, or students, nor does it look at outcome measures of parent involvement or student achievement. Future research, including randomized controlled trials, might study which strategies are most effective in improving student achievement.

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