Date Published: Nov 1, 2016
School Community Journal
Stefanski, A., Valli, L. & Jacobson, R.
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Research indicates that partnerships between schools and neighborhood communities support student learning, improve schools, and strengthen families and neighborhoods. These partnerships expand the traditional educational mission of the school to include health and social services for children and their families and to involve the broader community. School–community partnerships typically arise out of a specific need in the community and, as such, differ across a range of processes, structures, purposes, and types of family involvement.

In previous work, we developed a typology to more closely examine various school–community partnerships (Valli, Stefanski, & Jacobson, 2013). From that review of the literature, we identified four increasingly complex and comprehensive partnership models. In this article, we reexamine the literature, focusing on the role of the family in those partnership models, and discuss implications for productive family–school–community relations. Our analysis of the literature indicates that the role of parents and families differed considerably across the four models. In contrast to the simple family involvement versus family engagement dichotomy found in much of the current literature, we found eight distinct ways in which family roles were envisioned and enacted. This article provides a detailed picture of those roles to guide policies and practices that strengthen the family’s role in school–community partnerships.