I did a post last year about getting families into programs and how this makes your program 1 percent better. As you continue to learn and see new ideas, I decided to do an update to my post from a year ago. I recently came across this picture from the Pennsylvania Department of Education. The simple name change makes this more inclusive for all kids and no one is left out. For example, I have said “Donuts with Dad” and not all children have a Dad in their life. So change it up to be “Donuts With Grownups”. Continue to create that safe place in your programs and also continue to invite parents into your programs. They need to meet you and learn about your program and other staff. We need their feedback, and also their support. Kids love to introduce their family members to their friends too!
Another fun way to get parent or family involvement is to creat parent committees. Once you start developing a relationship with that person, setup a few times during the year or Summer to see how they can deliver feedback to you and also help your program as a volunteer. Surveys are good, but nationally they say success is when about 23-25 percent fill it out. I think you can get more feedback if you talk to people, just takes more time. Same goes with emails, face to face conversation gets you more to work off of. One Summer I had great success, and had parents feed our staff during staff training. Besides no money being spent, the parents wanted to meet the staff that are working with their teen. They also wanted to express gratitude for giving their teen a job. Give the parent that opportunity! They will learn about you and the programs you are providing. We are seeing trends change, and enrollment moving up and down in different programs. Find out why, ask them what they want, and ask the kids too. You don’t have all the answers! I repeat you don’t have all the answers.
I will add this to the Resource Zone on my website. Check this out for more fun ideas!