Many Latino students continue to experience low academic achievement across educational contexts. Despite programmatic efforts, few academic or school-based interventions in the recent past have demonstrated a reliable way to increase their student outcomes. While parent involvement has been considered as an intervention to improve Latino student behavioral and academic outcomes, there are still significant gaps in the ways schools relate to these parents. In the last fifty years we have learned that the most impactful form of parent involvement is not when they come to the school site for meetings or workshops to ameliorate perceived deficits, deficiencies in their parenting or home environment. But rather, when they establish home behaviors that set academic supports and expectations for their children and which match the expectations of the school.
To introduce or strengthen such academic home behaviors and support some studies have suggested that the targeted use of school liaisons at home has led parents to become aware of the skills, assets and resources they possess and whose utilization have led to measurable positive results in schools. In these cases, school liaisons were used as an extension of the school or district academic program. They visited targeted students’ homes and utilized a strength-based approach which involved them guiding parents to identify available strengths and assets inherent in their family. The strengths and assets that the family possessed were then combined with the resources that the liaisons provided or identified. They were then combined to improve student outcomes.
However, in Migrant Region X, the current training that migrant liaisons receive do not prepare them for the specific purpose of working with parents. This lack of training does not allow them to develop and empower the family’s capacity to activate and use their existing social and human capital (inherent family strengths and assets) to address their children’s’ academic needs. Even if migrant liaisons were aware of the valuable assets and strengths that families possess they have no established formal protocol in which to consistently approach their interaction with migrant families. A tool is needed to guide them upon engaging parents in a strength-based process. Without proper training and access to a strength-based protocol these strengths and assets remained untapped.
My intent in this design study was to format a sequence of workshops and development activities to guide a team of migrant liaisons in their problem resolution interactions with parents to a higher degree of sophistication. Migrant liaisons would be led to expand their level of knowledge about factors that affect parent involvement. In particular, they would come to understand the need for employing a strength-based approach with families. Another change expected was that interaction with parents would be standardized and accorded by co-developing a Migrant Strength-Based Protocol (MSBP). A final expected study outcome would be that having benefitted from the study’s content and protocol, migrant liaisons would report an increase in their perceived sense of efficacy in regards to working with parents. I found that the study produced data that showed liaisons moved decidedly towards favoring a strength-based approach with parents. However, the afforded study timeframe was not sufficient to fully develop the intended protocol. Liaisons also showed an increase in their perceived efficacy in working with parents.