Friday, December 1, 2017

The Invisible Population: Supporting Foster Families

Foster families are an “invisible population.” If one hundred children were on a school playground, you couldn’t—or shouldn’t—be able to tell which ones were foster youth. If you were at a mall, you couldn’t pick out the foster families that pass you by.

According to the National Working Group on Foster Care and Education, education has the potential to be a positive counterweight to abuse, neglect, separation, impermanence, and instability for the 400,000+ children and youth served in foster care each year in the United States.
PTA’s mission is to advocate for every child. But how does a local PTA welcome and support an invisible population?
PTA’s duty is to be welcoming in general and more specifically promote efforts to raise student achievement.
However, because of privacy considerations, essentially the only way to know if a specific child or caregiver is in the foster care system is to create a welcoming environment that encourages them to self-identify.
Local PTAs have the potential to help foster families at the grassroots level while increasing their PTA’s value and relevance within their community.
The engagement level specific to supporting foster families can be as little or as much as an individual PTA chooses; don’t be afraid to do just a few things in this arena, for fear that it’s not “enough.” It all helps.
For example, local PTAs could:
  • Proactively, deliberately welcome foster parents into the PTA. Once the foster parents self-identify they no longer are a part of the “invisible population.” Welcoming foster families into local PTAs can be a part of an overall effort to become more diverse and engage underserved families.
  • Establish a child welfare committee with one of its goals being the support specifically of foster families. The committee could be called the diversity committee with a sub-goal to help foster parents.
  • Establish partnerships with the local foster care agency and ask how the PTA could share its parent involvement expertise to support the agency’s foster parents.
  • Source and fund the delivery of a teacher training to be presented during a professional development day. Teachers need to understand the challenges that foster youth face and potential impact on classroom management and test scores. This same training could be adjusted to be presented to foster parents.
  • Engage local legislators or foster care agencies to suggest that parent involvement training be included as one of the trainings offered to foster parents. All foster parents are required to attend annual training, so why not focus on parent involvement as one of the trainings?
  • Ask a known foster parent to write articles about relevant foster care concerns and resources for the local PTA newsletter.
  • Individuals with a passion for creating a foster parent PTA in their state can check with their state PTA to determine chartering requirements. Check out Maryland’s Foster Parent PTA as a potential example.
In addition to increasing the number of paid local PTA memberships and increasing PTA awareness and relevance within the community, increasing the support for teachers will be an important outcome for engaging and welcoming foster families.
If foster families become more involved and connected to the local school and the PTA, the critical home/school connection will be strengthened. Foster youth sometimes exhibit challenging behaviors; however, when foster parents work effectively with the teachers, the disruptive behaviors become more manageable.
Foster families may be an “invisible population,” but the gains that can come from local PTAs choosing to support this population can have very visible and positive results.
Sam Macer is the founder of the first foster parent PTA.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

PTAs and Schools Awarded Grants to Engage Families in STEM Education

PTAs and Schools Awarded Grants to Engage Families in STEM Education

Grants support STEM + Families initiative to increase student access to STEM experiences

ALEXANDRIA, Va., (Nov. 29, 2017)—National PTA is pleased to award over $97,000 in grants this fall to PTAs and schools across the country to engage families in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. The grants are part of the association’s STEM + Families initiative.

“Family engagement is essential to strengthen STEM education, bridge the STEM gap and help all children realize their fullest potential,” said Jim Accomando, president of National PTA. “We are pleased to equip PTAs and schools nationwide with resources to engage families in STEM education and help foster children’s understanding of and excitement for STEM.”

Thirty local PTAs have been selected to receive a $1,000 National PTA STEM + Families Science Grant, plus $400 in materials to conduct science experiments with families. Minnesota PTA, Ohio PTA, Oklahoma PTA, Rochester Community PTA in Mich. and Wake County PTA Council in N.C. also have been chosen to receive a science grant of $3,000 each, plus $1,000 for materials. The grants are sponsored by Bayer.

Thirty-five PTAs have been awarded a $1,000 National PTA STEM + Families Math Grant, sponsored by Mathnasium.

With the math and science grants, the PTAs and schools will:
  • Engage families using fun, hands-on learning experiences at math nights and science festivals
  • Educate families about STEM literacy, STEM careers and STEM education pathways and empower them to support their children’s success in STEM
  • Connect families and students to STEM enrichment opportunities and professional mentors

In addition to the grants, 50 PTAs have been selected to receive a package of educational games from logic and STEM game maker ThinkFun to use to host a STEM + Families game night. One hundred PTAs also have been chosen to receive a mini game package from ThinkFun.

“We are grateful to Bayer, Mathnasium and ThinkFun for supporting the efforts of PTAs to engage families in STEM education and increase access to STEM experiences for all students,” added Nathan R. Monell, CAE, National PTA executive director. “Including families as meaningful partners in STEM education and career pathways is critical to inspire the next generation of STEM professionals and ensure the long-term economic success of our nation.”

STEM + Families is a national effort to engage entire families in STEM experiences at school, at home, in the community and with digital learning environments to support students’ success in STEM. The goal of the initiative is to spark an interest in STEM education, inspire families and communities to explore STEM education and career opportunities, and engage family members in shared learning experiences.

National PTA announced the grant and game package recipients live on Facebook. Visit National PTA’s Facebook page to view the video.

National PTA® comprises millions of families, students, teachers, administrators, and business and community leaders devoted to the educational success of children and the promotion of family engagement in schools. PTA is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit association that prides itself on being a powerful voice for all children, a relevant resource for families and communities, and a strong advocate for public education. Membership in PTA is open to anyone who wants to be involved and make a difference for the education, health, and welfare of children and youth. For more information, visit

Media Contact
Heidi May Wilson, National PTA, (703) 518-1242

Sunday, November 26, 2017

"Giving Tuesday"

Greetings Child Advocates and Friends of Ohio PTA!

I am excited to let you know that Ohio PTA is taking part in Giving Tuesday on November 28th!  Never heard of it? It is a fast-growing movement to encourage a day of charitable giving after the gift buying days of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.  This is one of just a few days each year when people actually LOOK for somewhere to donate their money! It is an opportunity to support a cause or organization that they care about, a nice thought as it follows several days focused on consumer spending and getting some good deals. And where can you find a better deal than contributing to Ohio PTA’s scholarship fund and helping students achieve their dreams of going on to post-secondary education?

I am asking you to take part in Giving Tuesday by donating yourself and helping me spread the word about this new way to give. Our campaign theme is “Give $10, Get 10 Friends.” I am asking you to go to our Ohio PTA Facebook page, donate $10 (or more) for scholarships by clicking on the donation button link, then share that link with 10 friends and invite them to match your donation OR use this link

Giving Tuesday is truly an international movement and a great chance for all of us to spread the word about the important work we do for children and families throughout Ohio.  Please help Ohio PTA continue to fulfill the PTA vision of making “Every Child’s Potential a Reality.”

Thank you for your participation!

Susan Hans,

Ohio PTA President