Background: Partnerships with families in education settings should emphasize
their roles as active and engaged co-equal partners. However, common practices in schools
are to involve families at school-based events and share information with them about their
child’s education in a manner that does not promote two-way interactions.
Objectives: The objectives of this paper are to describe relevant background on familyschool
connections; approaches to promote academic performance and mental and behavioral
health; and a framework to organize family partnerships that support all youth across a
continuum of support intensity.
Methods: A review based on the relevant family-school partnership and systems change literature
was conducted. The review focused on prevention, tiered approaches that provide a
continuum of support to students, and partnership-centered family engagement.
Results: Research supports family-school partnerships in a tiered prevention framework. A
theory of change was developed to depict the impact of family partnerships on proximal and
Conclusions: Implications suggest a need for partnership-centered approaches to school reform
in state and federal policy to support investments in school and district initiatives. Initiatives
should embed culturally sensitive practices so that all children can thrive. Future directions
for investigating effective approaches for family partnerships are described.