Family Engagement and Cultural Responsiveness

Card image cap
Card image cap
Card image cap


The presence of family engagement is highly instrumental in education systems. The levels at which a student’s family is engaged in their curriculum can be directly linked to overall performance. Once families are in the loop and an active member of their child’s educational journey, they’re more in tune with their child’s potential needs and can help with their experience. Although some families do not necessarily have issues being active in their child’s education, there are very real and present obstacles for some Maine families. This can look like a few different things: language barriers, having to be at work, low socioeconomic status, childcare needs, etc.

To ensure our attempts in widespread family engagement are successful we must acknowledge that all families need different approaches. As the Maine Department of Education, it is difficult to assume there is any one way to reach an audience. When thinking about the audience of the families of our students, we must try even harder to navigate ways to clearly and actively communicate and have a greater understanding. With the diversity present in our school systems now, it is far too easy to let families with different backgrounds fall through the cracks. For example, the newsletter of the week not being translated further isolates a population due to language barriers.

To engage families, we need to:

  • Build relationships with students and collaborate with families to support student learning
  • Understand your student's and their family’s needs
  • Create a family night in your school
  • Try to accept and/or adapt to cultural norms that are not your own
  • Examine existing beliefs and biases about families and view trauma from a family standpoint
  • Practice culturally responsive teaching
  • Validate your family’s struggles
  • Try to keep language open and nonjudgmental
Resources and Tools

You may find this resource in the Race and National Origin Discrimination section of Education’s Office for Civil Rights’ (OCR) Reading Room, in English, Chinese-simplified, Chinese-traditional, Korean, Tagalog, and Vietnamese, with additional translations expected later this month.

Toolkit Family Engagement

The National Association for Family, School and Community Engagement (NAFSCE)

New Parent Checklist Out Today Helps Empower Families to Support Children’s Success in School

May 13  -Family Engagement

May 20 -Cultural Responsiveness

Should I get My Child Vaccinated? Flyers Multi-lingual 


Azeri (Latin)

Chinese Mandarin





Haitian Creole











Serbian (Latin)






Sara Alert School Opt Out flyers - Multi-lingual

USDOE Mission:

Raising the next generation is a shared responsibility. When families, communities and schools work together, students are more successful and the entire community benefits. For schools and districts across the U.S., family engagement is becoming an integral part of education reform efforts. 

If you have any questions, please contact:

Melanie Junkins