The advancements in digital technology create endless opportunities to creatively engage families in nontraditional ways. For families that work, travel for work, who feel intimidated by events such as parent teacher conferences, have younger children or elderly adults to care for, or who are overwhelmed with daily stressors, technology can create a platform for them to be involved and have a voice.
Facebook groups, email chains and digital newsletters help families stay more informed and organized during a time that works best for their family. Examples of the platforms that programs can use are:
- Constant Contact (www.constantcontact.com) can be used to create newsletters and send information to families on a regular basis.
- Mail Chimp (https://mailchimp.com/ ) can be used to send e-mail blasts.
- Tools like Google Hangout, Skype and FaceTime allow programs to be creative and involve families in program activities, despite being unable to physically be there. A quick email or text can go a long way in helping programs begin to build trust and rapport with families. Here are a few apps to explore:
Family portal such as ProCare www.procaresoftware.com/ and BackPack www.seniorsystems.com/products/advantage/my-backpack/ can be used to share information and get information from your families.
Don’t assume that all families have access to broadband or devices and your program participants are familiar with how devices operate, how to email, how to fill out a Google form or are active on these platforms, etc. Check in with your participants and their families often to make sure they’re not falling behind or feeling frustrated.