Definition of “Family” in Family Engagement
Child and youth serving systems broadly define “family” in family engagement as including parents and other adult caregivers, acknowledging today’s varied family units and their needs for extended supports. For example, early childhood education and juvenile justice programming describe family engagement as including biological, adoptive, and foster parents; grandparents; legal and informal guardians; and adult siblings.
Some agencies have broadened this definition of family to include related and non-related members. As an example, transition-aged and foster youth work with their providers to identify and name their personal family system that includes peers, mentors, and service providers who they trust and can count on for support. Key service sectors that are implementing family engagement plans and strategies to increase and improve the engagement of families in their systems and services include education, child welfare, juvenile justice, mental health, and primary health care providers.