What are family resource centers?
Family resource centers
are generally located in home-like settings and serve as informal
meeting places to classes, groups, and activities. Examples of offerings
include support groups, parenting classes, child care, recreation,
well-baby checks, and adult education classes. Programs are chosen by
each community. Family service centers provide more
intensive services in a "one stop shop" environment.
Where are family resource centers located?
A family resource center can be found in many
different settings. Some are in community centers, some are in converted
school classrooms, some are in portable buildings near schools. Each
community is different, and each family resource center is unique to its
Oregon examples include a center in the Bethel Barn in
Eugene, a converted school building in Grants Pass, shopping mall space
in Klamath Falls, downtown buildings in Silverton and Drain, and
school-based centers in the Portland area and Springfield. Family
resource centers are emerging throughout the state.
Why have family resource centers?
Family resource centers offer a number of benefits:
(1) community involvement, (2) access to activities and services, and
(3) emphasis on individual and family strengths.
1. Community involvement.
Each family resource center is governed by parents and
community members. Decisions about programs and services are made by the
people who live and work in the community–not county, state, or federal
government. Thus family resource centers can build on community
volunteers, energy, and resources in ways that traditional social
service programs cannot.
2. Access to activities and services.
Family resource centers can be a central gathering place for community
activities and events. Information can be shared about recreation, early
childhood programs, adult classes, and social services. Families don’t
have to call multiple agencies to find out what is available to them.
The person who coordinates the resource center is key–it has to be
someone that family members know and trust.
3. Emphasis on individual and family strengths.
Because family resource centers focus on positive activities for
children and their families, they change the way that services are
delivered. Instead of emphasizing programs that provide a "hand out,"
family resource centers involve people in ways that build their skills
and sense of self. People at family resource centers are "contributors"
and "participants," not "recipients" of services. Research demonstrates
that these are the dynamics that change lives–instead of promoting
What results have family resource centers
Evaluation studies of demonstration projects found the
- Children enrolled in schools with family resource
centers for at least three years evidenced higher scores in
mathematics and reading achievement tests than children in control
- Children participating in early childhood center
programs at age 3 started kindergarten ready to learn as evidenced by
scores on kindergarten screening tests.
- Parents gave their
schools higher marks for academic focus, caring and sensitivity,
school-community relations, and collaborative decision-making than
did parents at schools without family resource centers.
FAMILY SUPPORT AND SCHOOL ACHIEVEMENT: THE RESEARCH
Family health and nutrition
Fetal exposure to alcohol increases the risk of
language deficiency and mental retardation.1
Children of smokers lag behind their peers in
cognitive development and educational achievement, and they are
particularly subject to hyperactivity and inattention.1
Nutritional deficiencies can affect attention and
motivational processes important for school success. Iron deficiency is
prevalent among U.S. children and is associated with anemia, shortened
attention span, irritability, fatigue, difficulty with concentration,
and increased absorption of lead which threatens children’s brain
Parent supervision and time spent with children
Three factors over which parents exercise
authority–student absenteeism, variety of reading materials in the home,
and excessive television watching–explain nearly 90% of the differences
in 8th grade mathematics test scores across 37 states.
Parental involvement with school
High levels of parental involvement with their
daughters’ school were associated with a reduced risk of teen-age
Children with families who reported high levels of
involvement with schooling at home and with the school had better
academic performance and school adjustment than those children whose
families reported lower levels of involvement with their children’s
Parents with lower education levels and minority
parents are less involved with school activities and have less contact
with the teachers than parents with higher education levels, and parents
with higher education levels are more successful in translating
information from school into actual family practices that help children
75% of mothers with school-age children are in the
workforce; 60% of mothers with preschool children. 54% of babies under
age 1. 66% of employed parents with children under 18 say they do not
have enough time for their children.7 89% of company
executives identified the biggest obstacle to school reform as lack of
The single most important activity for building the
knowledge required for eventual success is reading aloud to children.9
Child abuse and neglect
Children who have been maltreated are at higher risk
for health, social, psychological problems–and academic problems. In a
study of abused and neglected children under age 13, over half had
school difficulties, including behavior problems and over 20% had a
learning disorder that required special education.10
Dropping out of school
Completing high school cuts the risk of future
unemployment in half. Median earnings of college graduates were over
three times that of persons who did not complete high school.11
Teens who have positive future aspirations are much
less likely to become pregnant, abuse drugs, commit crimes, or drop out
Students who drop out report feeling they were shut
out of school activities, were powerless in adversarial teacher-student
relationships, were bored and uninvolved, didn’t receive enough
individual attention, and were treated disrespectfully.13
Almost 60% of teens with a school-age pregnancy
dropped out at some point between the 8th and 12th
grades. 28% of these teen mothers dropped out before they were
pregnant.14 Children born to teen mothers are overwhelmingly
more likely to : be low birth weight and born in poorer health; have
their health care paid for by public source; be abused or neglected; be
placed in foster care; be involved in juvenile and adult crime; drop out
of school; and become teen parents.15 It is estimated that if
childbearing were delayed just a few years to age 20-21, taxpayers would
save between $6 billion to $9 billion annually.
Creating Academic Success
prevention and early intervention, including quality early childhood
education and family support, are highly effective in increasing later
school progress and success. For young, low income children,
center-based programs with a language-based curriculum and high quality
day care are effective, particularly in combination with intensive
parent programs involving parents in learning the most effective ways to
interact with their young children.16
Kindergarten and elementary school years.
Comprehensive early intervention programs are the most
effective in improving the school success of at-risk elementary school
children. These comprehensive programs combine academic skills,
school-age child care enrichment, family support, and response to
individual needs of children and families to prevent school failure.17
Middle and High School Years.
Youth who are engaged in school, who value doing well in school, and who
are more involved in academic and extracurricular activities, are more
likely to be high achieving than other students.18
Transitions from grade to middle school, middle to high school, or from
one school to another are points of vulnerability for youth.19
Failure and drop-out rates are higher for high schools with larger
classes, high pupil-teacher ratios, and an emphasis on tracking and
Responsive school environments are characterized by
high expectations for all; strong family and community partnerships;
safe, positive, cooperative environments; varied teaching approaches;
challenging, interdisciplinary curriculum; positive individualized
assessment procedures; and strong supportive personal relationships
between youth and adults in the school. All students benefit from
such learning environments.21
1. L. Newman and S. Buka. Every child a learner:
reducing risks of learning impairment during pregnancy and infancy.
Denver: Education Commission of the States, 1990.
2. OSU, 1997.
3. Barton & Coley, 1992.
4. J. Manlove, Journal of Research on Adolescence,
5. B. Ho, Effects of family-school connections on
school success among ethnically and linguistically diverse families,
6. Lareau, 1987; Singh, Bickley, Keith T., Keith B.,
Trivette & Anderson, 1995; Stevenson & Baker, 1987.
7. Families and Work Institute, 1994.
8. Perry, 1993.
9. Anderson et al., 1985.
10. Schene, 1996.
11. Oregon Employment Division, 1995.
12. OSU, 1997.
13. Dryfoos, 1990.
14. Manlove, 1998.
15. Maynard, 1996.
16. Kellaghan et al, 1993; McWhirter et al., 1993;
Slavin et al, 1994.
17. Slavin et al, 1994.
18. Steinberg, 1996.
19. Eccles et al, 1993; Graham et al, 1997.
20. Dryfoos, 1990.
21. Scales, 1996.