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Participation should be regarded as expansively as possible. Ensure that the ways families can participate are empowering and engender a sense of belonging.  Below are some examples of the opportunities of where participants’ Circles of Support are invited and urged to join in. Be sure that family participation is, and is seen to be, voluntary, not compulsory. Some families will not want to participate, or do not have the time to do so.  As you try some of these ideas, share your experiences and new ideas with DYCD.

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An Orientation


  1. Staff meet and greet participants’ circles of support
  2. Review program expectations, policies and agreements – (or create community norms together)
  3. Provide an overview of program activities, special events and services
  4. Share opportunities for families to be partners – volunteers, family advisory council, family ambassador
  1. Facilitate ice breakers/community building activities to help families and staff makes connections as well as builds trust.  Check out icebreakers included in the tools/resources section or the Circles of Support activity 
  2. Hang a welcome sign in a variety of languages spoken by your families or have materials available (butcher block paper, markers, crayons, etc.…) so participants can create their own welcome graffiti art
  3. Have a panel of family members and participants from recent program share their experiences
  4. Develop a community agreement and then post and share it
  5. Provide food or snacks- can have a barbecue if weather permits or a family potluck
  6. Distribute the Family Interests Survey
  7. Distribute a calendar of events
Culminating Event/Showcases/Tournaments


  1. Celebration of a phase completed or a series of classes
  2. Transition to the next phase – moving up ceremony and 5th, 8th & 12th grades graduations
  3. Demonstrate participants’ new learning or   talent
  4. Show support for participants and program


  1. Help each participant identify and recognize someone in their Circles of Support to attend
  2. Involve families or supporters in planning and implementation
  3. Invite representatives from next phase to share their experiences of managing change and embracing new opportunities
  4. Record the event with photos, videos
  5. Provide a keepsake — certificate, diploma, trophy, acknowledgment letter, photo, portfolio of work
  6. Invite media and/or local elected official to highlight the event and their support for the community
A Family Night


  1. Build community over holidays such as harvest festival, New Year, winter expo, etc.…
  2. Share participants’ skills and progress – display examples of their work
  3. Get feedback from participants and their families about what is working, what needs more attention and what is missing
  4. Introduce new information and/or build new skills
  5. Promote wellness -healthy eating or family fitness
  6. Promote civic engagement
  7. Invite communication between home and program
  1. Provide opportunity for families to share culture, customs, food, experiences
  2. Conduct icebreaker to introduce families to each other — try Mingle, Mingle
  3. Arrange transportation and child care if possible
  4. Invite speakers to share information or teach a new skill
  5. Introduce hands-on activities that can be completed or replicated at home/provide materials
  6. Cornell Cooperative Extension provides cooking classes for families and young people
  7. NYC Bike Expo – Mighty Milers or Road Runners Club offer opportunities for young people and their families to participate in free or low cost fitness activities
  8. Try hosting a Homework Diner
  9. Family STEM
  10. Host an Open House


A Family Conference


  1. Share participant’s strengths
  2. Suggest support for challenges
  3. Discern family needs and resources
  4. Engage families in developing solutions and implementing supports for participants
  5. Promote family pride


  1. Be cognizant of space and confidentiality requirements
  2. Always start with strengths of participants and their family
  3. Have examples of participant’s accomplishments/work available
  4. Listen to family member’s ideas on how the participant and the program are doing
  5. Cite possibilities for building on participant’s assets
  6. Be familiar with all of the organization’s internal resources
  7. Develop list of available community resources
  8. Facilitate introduction to and/or application to other community resources
  9. Follow-up on all promises
Educational Workshops


  1. Provide new information, tools and resources
  2. Build new skills to assist with parenting, i.e. Parenting Tweens 101; Entrepreneurial – jewelry making or couponing
  3. Develop skills to advocate for themselves and their children- public speaking, meeting with legislator, orientation to policy, knowing family rights.
  4. Meet interests:  vocational- ESL, GED or Citizenship
  5. Create networking opportunities – Open Mic, poetry café. Weight Watchers, book clubs, etc.…
  6. Affinity groups – alumni, new parent, grandparents, foster parents, etc.…
  7. Hobbies – quilting, baking, coloring, etc.…
  1. Solicit ideas and needs from families, current trends
  2. Bring in experts on topics – make sure they are engaging speakers and provide hands- on activities
  3. Use a satisfaction survey to gauge new information learned and further interests
  4. Tap into the strengths of families – some families have expertise or connections that can help your program achieve its goals
  5. Organize parent rally and platforms to meet with local city council, mayor, and congress representatives.
  6. Lead community service projects to better community


Resource Fairs


  1. Meet the identified needs of participants, families and community members
  2. Assist over-age or under credited participants
  3. Engage adults who are ready to go back to school or explore a new career
  4. Promote hands on work experience – internships or certificate programs that lead to job placement opportunities
  5. Disseminate information and resources
  1. Partner with school counselors
  2. Seek out partnerships with higher education institutions and other community organizations/business
  3. Invite past participants to speak or host an information table
Summer Learning


  1. Create opportunities for learning and prevent summer learning loss
  2. Expose families to NYC cultural resources and events
  3. Promote wellness and healthy living
  4. Strengthen family connections
  5. Gain workforce skills and experiences
  1. Host family trips to local museums, art galleries or performance – Lincoln Center Mid-Summer Night Dreams Event
  2. Partner with NYC park departments free outdoor activities
  3. Host summer learning events –
  4. Conduct virtual trips
  5. Conduct community walks, health challenge, etc.…
  6. Host a financial literacy workshop for Summer Youth Employment Program participants and their families

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Creating a Family Engagement Roadmap

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