Family Engagement Task Force – September–March 2020 Report

The group met 4-6 times this reporting period.

Recent Activities

First Activity
The committees first activity was to organize and plan a half-day preconference session for PLA 2020. The focus this training opportunity was to help libraries learn how to engage library leadership in the importance of Family Engagement as a new and regular part of library programming endeavors. The diversity of panel speakers from size of library to gender and ethnicity was of the speakers was in alignment with PLA's vision. The committee moved away from speakers we see at every conference in an effort to keep the information fresh and engage those who may not have been active previously.
Meets PLA’s strategic goals for Advocacy and Awareness, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Social Justice, Leadership

Second Activity
The second activity that took the bulk of the committee's time and effort was the planning and fine-tuning of the subscription webinar Family Engagement learning series. Based on the PLA’s Family Engagement Framework, this new professional development activity will enable public library professionals to expand and refine their current family engagement programming and strategies. This subscription plan will consist of eight highly interactive virtual classroom sessions. Each one-hour session will be led by experienced facilitators from the PLA Family Engagement Task Force and other experts. Participants will also engage in small-group work and facilitated discussions with their peers.

In addition to the online classroom sessions, participants will receive access to a closed ALA Connect group through which they may network with their peers and interact with session facilitators outside of class time. Access to this page, which includes exercises, session recordings, and other resources, will be given for a one-year period to all paid registrants.
Meets PLA’s strategic goals for Leadership, Organizational Excellence, Transformation

Third Activity
The PLA Family Engagement Task Force Partnered with Zero to Three to present a webinar. The webinar was titled Public Libraries: Vital Partners in Family Engagement.
Public libraries are accessible, offering diverse, intergenerational programming and serving families from low income homes at a high rate compared to other community providers. This session will enlighten new and experienced early childhood program staff, parents and others about the potential of public libraries and how they can collaborate with local public libraries as learning spaces and extend their own impact to engage families.
Meets PLA’s strategic goals for Advocacy and Awareness, Leadership, Organizational Excellence, Transformation

Fourth Activity
FE Task Force partnered with the National Center for Families Learning to present two sessions at their national conference, November 4-6 in Louisville, KY.
The first session was a webcast focused on ideas to engage families of diverse community groups and how libraries and public institutions can remove barriers to library access. It stressed that families are more likely to become engaged in their children’s learning when school and library staff reach out to them. This webcast was in partnership with the PLA and was sponsored by Better World Books.
The second session was a workforce development and family engagement session presented by Scott Allen (PLA), Ashley J. Brown (co-chair FE Task Force), and Gale (Baltimore Public Library). This session had over 50 attendees from the NCFL conference.
Meets PLA’s strategic goals for Advocacy and Awareness, Organizational Excellence, Transformation

Fifth Activity
The FE Task Force worked with Katie Campana, PhD, Assistant Professor in the School of Information at Kent State University to provide feedback and comments their white paper for PLA. While the library field has made good progress with encouraging computational thinking for older children and teens, it has not made as much progress with incorporating computational thinking into programs and services for young children and their families. The goal of the paper is to help library staff working with young children and families see the importance of computational thinking so they will hopefully start exploring how to incorporate and encourage it in their own programs. The paper provides a basic overview of computational thinking, why it is important for young children and their families, and a few examples of how it can be incorporated into library programs. The Task Force assisted with providing real-time programs currently taking place in libraries.
Meets PLA’s strategic goals for Advocacy and Awareness, Organizational Excellence, Transformation

What will your group be working on for the next six months?
The FE Task Force will support and help implement a recent IMLS grant awarded to PLA and NCFL, “Exploring a Program Co-design Approach to Better Serve and Engage Low-income, Latinx Communities.” The Task Force assist with the partner libraries who will develop and document methods for how library staff can support authentic Latinx parent participation in family engagement. This will engage parents in creating services designed for them in three (urban, suburban, and rural) locations. The intent is to generate strategies and practices for authentic parent participation and identify approaches and best practices that can be piloted on a national scale. The Task Force will also evaluate and refine the subscription webinar learning sessions and create a timeline for the next series to begin.

Does the group have any policy recommendations, ideas with financial impact, or other items to bring to the PLA Board for discussion or action
None at this time.

Do you have any suggestions for future products or resources (excluding conference programs) to be developed based on your group’s work?
We would like to see more programming at conference that highlights partnerships between libraries and the private sector that promote family engagement. Now more than ever we are creating and implementing programs to be done at home by the whole family unit in a way that we have never experienced before.

Are there other PLA/ALA committees your group might collaborate with to benefit the work of all?
We absolutely see the FE Task Force benefiting from connecting and working with the Leadership Development Committee as changes in programming structure must come down from the top of the hierarchy to be successful. We also see advantages to working with AASL, ALSC and YALSA to engage libraries who are solely focused on children and teens to recognize and expand on the value of programs that are multi-generational.

Have there been any issues related to meeting participation/attendance for any of the group’s members?

Is there anything PLA could have provided during this time that would have helped your group with its work?
Scott Allen and Symone Villasenor have been essential in us being successful. We would like to thank them for their continued support and for always being patient with us. They listened, responded and helped us create a successful new learning environment to educate and promote family engagement services to a broader audience and promote awareness of the importance of adult services and children's services working side-by-side. The committee could not have been better supported and we look forward to continuing this work with Scott and Symone.

Submitted by Jo Giudice on 08/31/2020