STEM Next has partnered with Drs. Patty Allen and Gil Noam of the Institute for the Study of Resilience in Youth (ISRY) at McLean Hospital and Harvard Medical School to create the STEM Family Engagement Planning Tool. This Planning Tool introduces a new framework for family engagement in STEM known as CARE: Connect, Act, Reflect, and Empower. CARE is a simple way of organizing ideas from research and practice to provide a shared and equitable vision for family engagement in STEM.
The Planning Tool and Framework build upon the promising practices described by Drs. Linda Kekelis and Kara Sammet in Changing the Game in STEM with Family Engagement. The Planning Tool was created to help STEM-providing out-of-school time (OST) programs engage with families to support youth learning and success in STEM, but the key ideas and strategies are also relevant for schools. The process of creating and improving the Planning Tool was iterative and collaborative, involving an in-depth review of the research literature, input from a distinguished advisory council, and feedback from state networks, program directors, frontline staff, and caregivers. Using CARE, the Planning Tool takes a strengths-based approach, emphasizing the need to work in partnership with families to ensure collaborative culture and practices. The Planning Tool is designed for beginners just starting to learn about family engagement in STEM as well as practitioners who already have a family STEM program in place. A workbook provides guided reflection for programs as they establish a strategic vision and translate family engagement plans into action. Some of the steps in the process include: building a team, crafting a vision; identifying strengths and barriers; setting goals and priorities; and creating a roadmap.