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  • July/August 2017
  • Vol. 18, No. 5

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The Family Engagement Inventory: A Brief Cross-Disciplinary Synthesis

The Family Engagement Inventory (FEI) was designed to enable professionals in the fields of child welfare, juvenile justice, behavioral health, education, and early childhood education to access information on family engagement and how it is defined and implemented in their respective fields of study. Understanding the commonalities in family engagement across disciplines supports cross-system collaboration and increases the odds of more effectively achieving positive outcomes for children, youth, and families.

The Family Engagement Inventory: A Brief Cross-Disciplinary Synthesis, produced by the Children's Bureau and Child Welfare Information Gateway, describes the frameworks and methods used to develop the FEI, including a preliminary literature review, consultation with experts, and an extensive review of published literature.

The brief also defines four domains of family engagement and the commonalities they have as they pertain to the five disciplines:

  • Definitions: Although the definition of family engagement differs across disciplines, four core elements are common throughout: collaboration, communication, sustained engagement, and involvement in the system level.
  • Themes: Several themes emerged across the five disciplines, including child-centered approaches, collaboration with families, joint planning and decision-making, interagency and multisystem collaboration, and family involvement.
  • Benefits: Common benefits of family engagement that emerged across disciplines showed that it enhances the fit between family needs and services; promotes the likelihood of positive outcomes for children, youth, and families; improves families' abilities to cope with challenges they are experiencing; and enhances systems' capacity to support families.
  • Strategies: The brief lists strategies that enhance family engagement at the practice level, program level, and system level. These strategies include setting mutually satisfactory goals at the practice level; stressing the importance of engaging children and youth in permanency, case, or treatment planning at the program level; and engaging families in system reform or family advisory councils at the system level.

The Family Engagement Inventory: A Brief Cross-Disciplinary Synthesis is available at https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubPDFs/synthesis.pdf (315 KB).

For more information on the FEI, visit https://www.childwelfare.gov/fei/.
 

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