Building Better Bonds with Families Grant

Ohio Collaborative for Educating Remotely and Transforming Schools

“Building Better Bonds with Families” was funded by a grant from the Ohio Collaborative for Educating Remotely (OCER) through Philanthropy Ohio. The grant had two main components:

  • Establish a resource webpage for families/caregivers given some of the unique circumstances surrounding remote learning and the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Develop teacher modules to help improve the culture of communication between schools and families.

Grant details

The COVID pandemic complicated the concept of high-quality equitable access to learning experiences, particularly when students struggle to engage in remote learning structures. In addition to the technical challenges with accessing devices & online platforms, many families struggle on a social & emotional (SE) level. Our proposal speaks to such inequities by addressing the foundational needs to be met for those whose social circumstances during quarantine have accentuated a dearth of SE health and stability. Many students are isolated from the learning community through no fault of their own. While families may have physical tools (computers, etc.), there is still inequitable access to a caring learning community to support the whole child, specifically the SE needs of the learner. These SE needs are the foundation for learning & access to high quality educational opportunities.

Building Better Bonds with Families seeks to redefine the nature of school-family relationships through two initiatives: 1) the development of publicly available resources to help caregivers manage SE needs of students & families; 2) the development of learning modules for teachers on alternative strategies for family engagement. While teachers receive relevant professional development and training, parents will have access to tools to support at-home learning opportunities (including, but not limited to SEL strategies and structures, optional mini-modules to further learning, etc.). Together, these two initiatives will provide a consistent & reinforcing structure to increase student engagement in meaningful ways to support high quality instruction.

Schools often form family relationships on the basis of bad news (i.e., negative behavior or poor academic performance). Through this project, we will reimagine the dynamics of this relationship. By strengthening a meaningful “home-school” connection, schools will increase parent engagement and student engagement.

The pandemic has taught us how many families lack access to mental health & wellness care. As a culture, mental health is stigmatized, and many people do not have ready access to mental health and wellness resources. We want to change that. By strengthening the school-family relationship, and by recontextualizing that relationship to focus on wellness vs. reports about negative behavior & grades, we seek to redefine how at-risk & disengaged families relate to the school community overall. Through providing school personnel resources, which may include talk tracks, positive reinforcement, and SEL Ohio Collaborative for Educating Remotely and strategies/resources, we want families to view school as one place to receive new kinds of support amidst trying times, creating more compassionate school cultures now & in the future.

Through the end of December 2020 – Partner ESCs will collaboratively develop learning modules in two start-up phases (with a third phase happening mid-way through the second semester).

Phase 1 includes the research and organization of content for improved caregiver engagement. ESC experts will build the curriculum for these courses for our partner school districts, which may include, but are not limited to timelines, relevant assessment/reflection activities, concrete application concepts, etc. During this content creation phase, faculty and staff in our partner school districts will be surveyed to pulse check locally articulated needs. Trends spanning multiple districts will constitute particular area(s) of focus and development.

In Phase 2, we will work to develop/adopt a learning/content management system that will not only warehouse the modules but also provide adequate reporting mechanisms as outlined elsewhere in this proposal for analytical purposes.

In Phase 3, after the modules have gone live and participants have worked through them, we will conduct another feedback session to solicit input from users and to make adjustments to content and materials, as needed. By this time, we will have both this feedback and user data to inform how we finalize the modules. This provides an opportunity to re-tool the learning experiences based on feedback and data to ensure the highest quality of content for transforming the culture of family/caregiver engagement.

Beginning of January 2021 – Partner ESCs will collaboratively develop the SEL resource for caregivers in two start-up phases (with a third phase happening mid-way through the second semester).

Phase 1 includes the research and organization of content for supporting caregivers with SEL. ESC experts will collect and/or create the resources for this project. During this content creation phase, parents and other stakeholders (such as counselors, psychologists, Family and Community Partnership Liaisons) in our partnering school districts will be surveyed to pulse check locally articulated needs. Trends spanning multiple districts will constitute particular area(s) of focus and development.

In Phase 2, we will work to develop/adopt a web-based interface that not only warehouses the content but collects user information of people who interact with and access resources on the website. This will provide data for those reporting mechanisms outlined elsewhere in this proposal for analytical purposes.

In Phase 3, after the resource site has gone live, we will conduct another feedback session to solicit input from families/caregivers, counselors, psychologists, Family and Community Partnership Liaisons, etc. in our partnering school districts. By this time, we will have both this feedback and user data to inform how we finalize the web resource. This provides an opportunity to re-tool the resource based on feedback and data to ensure the highest quality of content for transforming support for families.

These structures and approaches represent how we will access high-quality learning experiences. These trainings and resources speak to inequities by addressing the foundational needs to be met for people whose social circumstances during quarantine have accentuated a dearth of social and emotional health and stability.


About ACCESS

ACCESS is an alliance of 10 Educational Service Centers in Ohio, providing educational services for over 100 years. We serve nearly a quarter of the student population in Ohio representing urban, suburban, and rural communities.

Vision: To be recognized among state entities as a capable, reliable, and effective vehicle for implementing, supporting, and scaling educational initiatives, programs, and services.

Mission: Providing easy ACCESS to the best educational solutions for local, regional, and state entities.

ACCESS leads the state in its ability to innovate, design, and implement effective service aligned to customers’ desired outcomes. We put our customers first, consider their needs in all we do, and design custom solutions that work. We are a conduit for implementation of state initiatives and we go the extra mile to ensure end-to-end service designs.

ACCESS includes Brown County ESC, Clermont County ESC, Fairfield County ESC, Hamilton County ESC, Lawrence County ESC, Madison-Champaign ESC, Pickaway County ESC, Ross-Pike ESD, South Central Ohio ESC, and Southern Ohio ESC.

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