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News You Can Use
Family Engagement Resources & Updates - April 4th, 2022

Partnering With Immigrant Families
A photo of Aceriane Leal
Aceriane Leal
Portuguese Outreach Coordinator
The Strengthening Partnerships framework defines family engagement as “an intentional, authentic, respectful, and equal partnership between practitioners and families leading to positive results for children and youth.” In my work with Portuguese-speakers, I see many preventable obstacles to building partnerships with immigrant families.

For immigrant families, translation and interpretation must be provided—but this is just a starting point. We also need to make sure that families understand the full meaning of the information we share. This includes breaking down the steps in a process, providing context, defining terminology, offering help, and providing time to ask questions. At the same time, it is important to demonstrate that their insights and concerns are valued.

Communicating through an interpreter or collaborating with a cultural broker takes more time than simply hitting send on an English-language email. However, when we listen carefully and provide space for families to express their insights, the results can be powerful for the child.

We hope that this issue of our newsletter offers helpful examples and tools for partnering with diverse families. Our work is challenging, but MASFEC is here to help. If you haven’t already connected with us, please reach out! Join other districts and organizations who collaborate with us to strengthen practices and build partnerships with families.

Please Take Our Survey
Each year MASFEC conducts a statewide survey on local experiences of family engagement. Surveys take about 10 minutes to complete and offer an opportunity to share direct, anonymous feedback about your experiences. Your response will help MASFEC partners set priorities for promoting family engagement at the school, district, and state level.

Thank you for your participation and for all you do to support young people's success through effective family engagement!
New Resources from MASFEC
What is Family Engagement?
For the answer to that question and many more, check out MASFEC's brand new fact sheets on this topic!

Whether you are new to family engagement or already have some experience with it, you can level up your skills and understanding through these fact sheets!
An Introduction to Ramadan
Perhaps best known for its prescribed fasting from sunup to sundown, Ramadan is designed to be a month for self-reflection and spiritual revival, when Muslims all over the world have an opportunity to reconnect with their faith, regardless of whether or not they choose to fast.

No matter your religious background, Ramadan is an opportunity for you and your child to learn about Islam and articulate what values are important to you and your family.

Read this blog post and explore this reading list with your child to learn more about this beautiful holiday season!
Helping Your Middle Schooler Accept Themselves
No one ever said parenting a middle-schooler was easy. But if you feel your tween is sliding into periods of self-doubt, don't panic! Just follow Mathu's five suggestions for how to support your middle schooler in rekindling their confidence and building a stronger sense of self.

Career and Technical Education logo by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
Career & Technical Education Project Update - SOFE
FCSN and MASFEC have been working on a dual capacity building project aimed at sharing information about career and technical education with families while soliciting input and feedback to further improve available resources.

A number of new resources have been developed in direct response to parent questions and concerns, and existing resources are being continually updated to make them language-accessible and family friendly.

Read our latest report and view resources developed by the project on the SOFE Project Website.
Workshops & Trainings
Basic Rights Workshop Series 
Are you interested in learning more about the IEP process, but are unsure of where to start?

Then consider attending these upcoming workshops:

  • Understanding the IEP - Learn the basics of what an Individualized Education Program is and how to read & understand it (Offered April 6th & 28th)
  • Evaluation & Eligibility - Learn how students are determined to have a need for an IEP or 504 Plan (Offered April 6th, 13th, & 14th)
A family smiling
Charla de la comunidad latina de FCSN
(FCSN Community Talk - in Spanish)
Take part in this community group that meets on the first Thursday of each month to talk about project updates, get answers to your questions, and take part in training sessions offered by FCSN.

This month's meeting is April 7th.

Connecting Families with The MA Rehabilitation Commission
The Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC) has created the Office of Individual and Family Engagement (OIFE) to help people with disabilities and their families learn about the services and information available to them through the MRC.

This April 7th presentation will include information about:

  • What this office can do for you and your family
  • Exciting new initiatives like a quarterly disability forum and disability newsletter
  • Opportunities to get connected with and learn more about MRC

This event will have simultaneous interpretation in the following languages: Spanish, Portuguese, Mandarin, Cantonese, Haitian Creole, and Vietnamese. Learn more and register here!
five colorful hearts - federation for children with special needs logo
Featured Workshops for Families
FCSN offers a wide array of workshops and trainings for families, educators, healthcare, and service providers in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Haitian Creole, and Vietnamese. Check out upcoming workshops including:

Positive Solutions: Train the Trainer
Do you have a passion for social-emotional learning and want to promote it in your community?

If so, then consider signing up for the free Positive Solutions For Families train the trainer series, where you will learn about resources to share with your professional and caregiver communities.

Five sessions are offered each month from January through June of 2022. This month's cohort meets on April 5th, 6th, 7th, 12th, & 14th from 2–4 pm.

Contact Bridget Koetsch at bkoetsch@fcsn.org for more details or Learn more and register here!
Strengthening Partnerships Train the Trainer
MASFEC is hosting one more session of our Training of Trainers session for individuals interested in bringing the Strengthening Partnerships model to your school or district.

  • April 5th, 6th, and 7th from 1–4 pm

Participants who complete all 3 sessions will be supported to deliver the program at least 2 times within one year of training and to report the data on your work back to MASFEC.

ICYMI: Family Engagement Practices for IEP Teams
The Federation for Children with Special Needs has partnered with the MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and other organizations as part of the IEP Improvement Project. Included in this work was the development of a course to support school staff in meaningfully including students and families.

The course can be completed at your own pace and includes many MASFEC resources.

You Might Have Missed
Welcoming Your Afghan Students Resources for Educators
Welcoming Your Afghan Students
In the past six months, the US – among other countries – has welcomed tens of thousands of Afghan newcomers to our shores. Like every immigrant group, Afghans enrich our country. They have also faced intense trauma following the 20-year occupation and abrupt withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.

MASFEC has compiled a list of resources to assist educators in welcoming and supporting Afghan students. Former educator and MASFEC author-in-residence, Mathangi Subramanian, Ed.D. has also developed helpful guidance that parents and educators can use to frame how they talk about newcomers with children and teens. We hope you find these resources useful enough to share with colleagues and friends in your community.
Language-Accessible Information about Career & Technical Education
The Secondary Options Family Engagement Project has been working closely with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to develop family-friendly, translated information about career, vocational, and technical education options. New web-based resources have now launched, with more changes planned in response to parent and caregiver feedback.

The new, human-translated version of Massachusetts School Finder includes content in six languages and a map to visualize school and program locations. Check it out here

A new section of the DESE website has been developed to respond to the questions and concerns raised by families. Also human translated - View this information here.
Measuring the Impact of Home Visits
Despite widespread respect for the practice, home visits are not as widely used in school settings as we might hope. Which raises the question, is it worth the investment of time and resources to try to expand this practice?

A recent study by Institute for Education Sciences strongly suggests that the answer is yes. A recent study from Washington, D.C. schools measured the impact of one home visit on student attendance, disciplinary involvement, and academic performance. Read about it here.
Take Your Partnerships to the Next Level
MASFEC and the Federation stand ready to assist organizations and districts that are ready to go deeper in the direction of equity-driven partnership.

Check out our statements on new resources and opportunities available through these new policy initiatives:

Then, reach out! We'd love to work with you.
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Massachusetts Statewide Family Engagement Center
529 Main Street, Suite 1M3 | Boston, MA 02129
617.236.7210 | www.masfec.org