The Promise Neighborhood Model: Family Engagement Challenges and Best Practices
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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY POLICY QUESTIONS What is a Promise Neighborhood and what are the different forms a Promise Neighborhood can take? How do Promise Neighborhood administrators engage community members and how do parents and caregivers respond to the Promise Neighborhood family engagement strategies? BACKGROUND Inspired by the Harlem Children’s Zone, a Promise Neighborhood is a community centered on providing all children high-quality, coordinated health, social, and educational support from birth to college to career. The Obama administration currently funds Promise Neighborhoods in 20 states and in the District of Columbia. Three foundational principles of the Promise Neighborhood Initiative are (1) the Promise Neighborhood is not a one-size-fits-all model, but rather takes shape to the community it serves using community needs assessments; (2) Children and parents need wrap-around supports to foster a safe and healthy learning environment; and (3) community participation and buy-in are essential for improving the community. Martez Hill, the Executive Director of the North Carolina State Board of Education, is interested in learning about the Promise Neighborhood model. He wants to know the various forms Promise Neighborhoods can take (e.g. their governance structure, the number of nonprofits involved, the number served, etc.). Because community engagement is such an essential component, he also wants to understand the strategies Promise Neighborhoods use to recruit families to participate. DATA AND METHODS In this project, I studied three different examples of Promise Neighborhood models including the East Durham Children’s Initiative, the Kinston Promise Neighborhood, and the D.C. Promise Neighborhood Initiative. First, I conducted in-depth interviews with administrators to learn how they recruit children, parents, and caregivers to participate. Second, I conducted in-depth interviews with parents and caregivers to learn why they participate in the Promise Neighborhood programs. This expands the current research by incorporating administrators’ perspectives to learn their strategies and by interviewing parents and caregivers specifically on family engagement; this has not been done before. I also developed profiles on the three neighborhoods to illustrate the different forms Promise Neighborhoods can take. FINDINGS Each administrator stressed the importance of involving community members in the Promise Neighborhood planning process. Each program also emphasized their collaborative efforts with local schools to share information with parents or caregivers. While the DC Promise Neighborhood Initiative utilizes a grassroots approach to community engagement, the East Durham Children’s Initiative and Kinston Promise Neighborhood have fewer resources. Instead, they rely on alternative recruitment strategies such as providing a parent advocate program and a parent and community advisory committee. Parents, caregivers, and administrators explained that the main challenges to program participation are time constraints, transportation, and competing priorities. Many parents or caregivers expressed their concern that many parents are not taking advantage of the Promise Neighborhood programming. They contribute their lack of participation to the aforementioned challenges, but also to the notion that many parents do not understand what being involved means. RECOMMENDATIONS When determining community engagement strategies for the Promise Neighborhood model, I recommend taking the following measures: 1. Engage families in the planning process 2. Partner with the local school 3. Develop a parent advocate program 4. Employ grassroots strategies 5. Determine how to best utilize parents and caregivers to communicate participation benefits to other community members
DepartmentThe Sanford School of Public Policy
SubjectPromise Neighborhoods, Harlem Children's Zone, DC Promise Neighborhood Initiative, East Durham Children's Initiative, Kinston Promise Neighborhood
CitationChudnofsky, Alyssa (2014). The Promise Neighborhood Model: Family Engagement Challenges and Best Practices. Master's project, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/8440.
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Rights for Collection: Sanford School Master of Public Policy (MPP) Program Master’s Projects