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Detroit Public Schools Programs Support Parent Involvement

Parents aren't just encouraged to help their children succeed in school, they're offered tools and resources to achieve their own successes, too.

When it comes to unlocking students' potential and leading them to success, Detroit Public Schools has found the key – and it's all about parents.

As DPS works to create neighborhood-centered, quality schools, parents are the ones who are truly helping make schools the focus of the community and a hub of activity. To support parent involvement, DPS provides many programs and services designed not to just aid students in reaching their academic and life goals, but parents, too.

Parent Resource Centers

Bringing parents together and giving them the tools they need to succeed is a large part of the mission of DPS' eight Parent Resource Centers (PRC). These centers, which began opening their doors in schools in 2010, now dot the Detroit area. And parents have been coming! This past 2012-2013 school year, parents visited these centers 29,200 times. With input and guidance from parents, DPS has continued to change and expand services offered at these locations.

"They have everything you need all in one place," says DPS parent Latonya Peterson. "You can go there and create resumes, attend workshops on raising kids, workshops on helping your kids with math skills, even Zumba – and I've just listed a few things they have."

Parent Resource Centers offer a Dads Club, workshops hosted by the Home Depot, free access to online tax preparation programs, and "Baby and Me" workshops for parents of children ages 0–5.

Detroit Parent Network

The force behind the Parent Resource Centers is the Detroit Parent Network, a group dedicated to guiding parents in their own personal development and leadership training.

"We have grown from a small group of committed parents seeking to nurture parent leadership in Detroit's homes, schools and communities to a powerful force servicing more than 30,000 parents across the region each year," says Detroit Parent Network's executive director Sharlonda Buckman of the group's 10-year history.

The Detroit Parent Network offers a full calendar of events, classes, workshops, groups and programs. For example, the New Directions support group meets and discusses options for parents who are unemployed, starting a new career, or rejoining the workforce. There are also groups that meet regularly for single parents, grandparents, parents of children with special needs, and many others, so that individuals can find others in similar circumstances to talk to and learn from.

Parent Connect

"Parent Connect has to be one of the best things DPS could have done," says Peterson, who uses the online program to keep track of her four kids' progress at school. "It helps me to stay active in my kids' school. I can find out about how they're doing anytime."

By accessing the program from a computer, parents can view their child's grades and other information such as attendance, classroom assignments, email teachers, and more.

"We want to involve our parents directly in their children's education, because studies consistently show that students with highly involved parents are more likely to earn high grades and test scores, attend school regularly, graduate and go on to postsecondary education," says Karen Ridgeway, Superintendent of Academics at DPS.

PULSE Online System

Another online tool helps monitor a student's progress and alert school staff and parents if a child is off track. Known as PULSE, this online system sends notifications to school staff based on set guidelines. "If a student has three absences or has failed their last unit test, or has had failing grades in the last week, the school staff will be alerted," explains Ridgeway. "We don't want students to be ignored for weeks at a time when they're having challenges. PULSE helps us know there's an issue."

Parent University and Home-School Visitation

Over the coming months, DPS will continue to roll out programs and services designed to help parents improve their own skills while becoming more involved with their child's school. Parent University is one of those initiatives. The program will offer courses focusing on parenting and self-development skills.

The district also has plans to offer a Home-School Visitation program to connect teachers and parents to ensure students' success.

"I think there are good things happening at DPS," says Peterson, "and even more good things to come."

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