July 2020
Vol. 3

Building Powerful Partnerships for the Sake of All Children!

by Marcia Coward, District Parent and Family Engagement Manager

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The Parent and Family Engagement Team has shifted through this pandemic, and "Rising Up" to match our words to actions!

As Family Engagers, we understand the plight of our families, and we are committed to staying focused on removing barriers to help with your student's success. Through our webinars and signature events, we intend to empower you as the first teachers of your children, to reinvent and rebuild structures that support your students. We were intentional in building out programs based on input from you all. Know that we listened well and heard you loud and clear.

Yes! COVID-19 has disrupted all of our lives, but it has also provided a perfect opportunity for us to build powerful partnerships with our teachers, administrators, and community to provide your students with a fighting chance. While we may be fatigued by the intensity of the moment and worried about the state of our country and the world around us, we embrace the opportunity to truly connect with our school leaders and community as we figure out how to affect change in this ever-changing world. Change comes when we join together as a community, grassroots movements, and small groups to advocate for not only our children but on behalf of all children.

We are all in this fight together! I hope that you join us as we move DeKalb forward and help our students "Start STRONG" for 2021.

For information regarding this article, please contact Marcia Coward at Marcia_Coward@dekalbschoolsga.org


The Importance of Parental Involvement

by Demone Gunter, District Family Engagement Liaison, Family Friendly Schools Initiative & Volunteerism

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What are the positive benefits of parent involvement?

There are many benefits to parental involvement at your child's school. Parental involvement gives parents an opportunity to build positive relations inside the school building and participate in school activities. In today's schools, parent volunteers are indispensable. With budget cuts, schools will rely more heavily on parents and other volunteers to help conduct school activities and provide supplies. There is no task too big or small as it pertains to parent involvement.

5 Reasons parent involvement is key to your child's school success.

1. It makes a difference in your child's education.
2. It helps to create a sense of community.
3. It allows you to get to know the teachers and staff.
4. It allows you to build relationships with other parents at your child's school.
5. It allows you to strengthen your child's education.

There are not enough resources to accomplish the work. Parental involvement is the key to this complex problem. Parental involvement will enhance equity and address the barriers of learning and teaching. Parental involvement sends a clear message to your child that school is important and worth your time. Whether or not your children are in kindergarten or high school, there is a good chance their school could use your help.

For information regarding this article, please contact Demone Gunter at Demone _Gunter@dekalbschoolsga.org or 678-984-8078.



Professional Skills & Training Resources

by Narva Dunlap, District Family Engagement Specialist, Parents’ Personal and Professional Growth & Development

Dekalb GED program

What are the pertinent skills that employers are looking for to determine qualified employees?

The following snapshot of picture-perfect skills is recommended for parents that are seeking job opportunities in today's workforce.

• Utilize effective communication skills.

• Provide accurate and timely information.

• Exhibit technical competency.

• Show a strong work ethic.

• Exemplify determination and persistence.

• Demonstrate flexibility and commitment.

• Collaborate with co-workers as a team player.

• Grow and develop personally and professionally.

• Use problem-solving skills to complete tasks.

• Prove to be loyal and trustworthy.

Parents are encourage to prepare, practice, and possess these preferred employment skills.

Would you like to experience professional job-related training?

If so, parents or guardians in the District will have an opportunity to improve and/or enhance their job training skills. In preparation for job and career fairs, DeKalb County School District's Department of Parent and Family Engagement, in partnership with various community collaborators, will provide parents/guardians professional job training, resources, and services. The training will spotlight and include a:

Job Search Etiquette Workshop (What to say? How and when to follow-up? What to look for and expect when searching for employment?)

Professional Resume Workshop (The "write" tips for developing a professional resume. Use templates for a new resume or receive edits on your current resume.)

Interview Skills Workshop (Are you ready for an interview? Practice what to say and don't say during an interview. A sneak peek to commonly asked interview questions.)

Technology Tools & Techniques Workshop(Navigate through basic computer skills.)

Dress for Success Workshop (Why does your attire for a job interview matter? Dress for Success and impress with inexpensive and affordable styles.) as well as workforce resources and services. Remember, your appearance and skills can portray an important first impression that counts, but last impressions are forever!

We look forward to supporting and working with our parents in achieving their professional goals.

For information regarding this article, please contact Narva Dunlap at Narva_Dunlap@dekalbschoolsga.org
or (770) 865-3750.

Communicating with the Five R's

by Stephanie Forbes, District Family Engagement Liaison, Student Academic Support

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In an attempt to slow down the spreading of coronavirus, our families are staying home trying to remain safe. The loss of routine and being inside can foster feelings of boredom. Boredom is an indication that we do not meaningfully engage with the world. The DeKalb County School District's Parent & Family Engagement Department recognizes the transition and begins reframing how we communicate with our families.

The way we communicate has changed, and the adjustment is new for all. We have joined the virtual world of conducting informational workshops and townhall meetings to continue reaching families across DeKalb. The virtual sessions are extended to parents via ZOOM, Microsoft Teams, Google Classroom, and Verge platforms.

The strategy of the family engagement is to manage uninterrupted relationship building that engage families through the five Rs:

• Reach Out: reach out to share resources, academic strategies, and strengthen family relationships.

• Rise Up: elevate family perspectives to improve their needs.

• Reinforce: guide and model educational activities that families' can take to support learning, from school to home.

• Relate: offer opportunities for parents to build peer-to-peer relationships and increase social networks.

• Reimagine: expanding community partnership to rediscover multiple ways of learning and how to support students and parents in academic success.

We are committed to maintaining and supporting the needs of our families. The virtual sessions are our way of supporting our families.

For information regarding this article, please contact Stephanie Forbes at Stephanie_B_Valentine@dekalbschoolsga.org or (678)-984-9616.

Parents! Are you struggling with structure?

by Latonya Winters-Buford, District Family Engagement Liaison, Parent Leadership & Advocacy Training

Dekalb GED program

Creating a routine for kids during COVID-19 can provide structure and predictability during times of uncertainty.

Many parents have found keeping routines and structure in quarantine to be quite a CHALLENGE! During a time of crisis, when so many things are unknown, creating a routine helps children in several ways. Structure promotes reassurance and a sense of safety. Routines can also promote positive physical and mental health. Structure helps children learn to manage time and space, and teaches them to follow through on their commitments. Here are three ways we can help provide structure for our children:

1. Scheduling and structuring time: morning routines, mealtimes, bedtime routines, study time, playtime; and encourage hobbies. Hobbies are a great way to foster creativity and imagination while giving children something to do to break up their day.

2. Organizing their space: making the bed, keeping the room clean, household chores, and study space. Giving a child a simple task or job to do can help build up their sense of empowerment.

3. Behavior: involves setting rules and guidelines on respect, teaching about choices and consequences. Engage in mindfulness and stress-relieving activities. Mindfulness practice is a great way to learn self-discipline. Many meditations and mindfulness apps are offering free downloads.

Let's talk more about how I can help at home!

For information regarding this article, please contact contact Latonya Winters-Buford at

Welcome to DCSD: Exploring Our School District

by Anne Ferreira District Family Engagement Liaison, Diversity & Inclusion Advocacy

Welcome to DCSD: Exploring Our School District


As part of the initiatives of creating a more inviting and intentional culturally aware school district, the Department of Parent & Family Engagement developed the workshop Welcome to DCSD: Exploring Our School District. This workshop series will assist the parents and their child(ren) in making a smooth transition into the school community. It will equip them with the knowledge necessary to navigate new educational experiences and receive additional information regarding the support available to promote the success of their child(ren).

The workshops sessions are:

• Parent Involvement Basics

• Structure of the School and District Overview

• Technology – Learn the Programs we Use as Support Tools

• Communicating with Teachers

• Parents' Rights & Responsibilities

• High School Success

• Road to College

• Parents as Education Agents

The Welcome to DCSD: Exploring Our School District resourceful online program is a collaboration with MALDEF and their Parent School Partnership program. Since 1989, thousands of parents have successfully completed MALDEF's PSP program, "parents are our nation's best hope for ensuring that public schools educate and prepare well our future national leaders and contributors to community progress." This program provides parents with the information and advocacy tools necessary to become more effective advocates in improving their children's educational attainment, their schools, and their community. (www.maldef.org).

For information regarding this article, please contact Anne Ferreira at

CRISIS: Homelessness in the Wake of COVID-19

by Richard Stephens II, District Family Engagement Liaison, Parent & Family Wrap Around Services

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With some of our DeKalb County School District families, economic hardships presented a pressing issue before the COVID-19 pandemic. However, with business closures and job losses that disproportionately affect poor residents, many of these families now find themselves in a state of increased anxiety as they have become dependent on unemployment benefits and stimulus payments. There is also anxiety among resource agencies who fear that many of these families will fall into homelessness due to the increasing need for housing assistance and decreased availability of resources.

St. Vincent de Paul Georgia, which provides comprehensive services to people living in poverty, has seen a 26% increase this year in families looking for housing assistance. There has been a 500% increase in the number of calls that Legal Aid has received related to unemployment. CaringWorks, a DeKalb County-based nonprofit that offers housing assistance and resident advocacy, stated that 45% of the people they assist have been furloughed or had their hours reduced.

Much of the anxiety over pending homelessness stems from the thousands of evictions that have been temporarily paused but set to resume at the end of the month. In mid-March, a statewide judicial emergency went into effect, halting eviction proceedings. The judicial emergency is set to expire in mid-July. The recent CARES Act has also delayed many evictions by prohibiting federally backed and subsidized properties from pursuing nonpayment evictions until July 25.

Also, there is a growing concern for persons living with friends, in hotels, or somewhere else without a formal lease. Despite the temporary judicial orders to stop evictions, these persons can be displaced without being formally evicted. Legal Aid has been pushing for residents of extended stay hotels to be granted tenants’ rights, which would give them formal eviction protection. Atlanta Legal Aid has stated that they fear there’s going to be a significant backlog of evictions.

But all is not lost. Through a concerted effort of support throughout Metropolitan Atlanta, many local organizations have increased their prevention efforts. For instance, Partners for HOME, a nonprofit serving the city of Atlanta, invested $650,000 into programs that offer immediate turn-around assistance to families experiencing homelessness. And several other organizations have stepped up their usual rent relief programs. The city of Clarkston allocated $100,000 to pay rent for its residents who are face eviction.

The DCSD Department of Parent and Family Engagement is focused on offering our parents the support, resources, and services they need during this difficult time. Through our C.A.R.E. (Chronic Homelessness, Access to Healthcare, Rehabilitation, and Economic Literacy) initiative, we have developed a network of agencies dedicated to supporting our parents, custodial guardians, and families beyond just coordinated entry. The C.A.R.E. initiative provides DCSD parents with ongoing support, regular check-ins, resources, and education tools even after the initial needs have been met.

If you find yourself in a circumstance where your housing situation has become unstable, and you need assistance with rent, back payments, pending evictions, or temporary housing, please complete our C.A.R.E. initiative entry form. You can also contact one of our network agencies directly through the resources tab on our website.

For consultation on seeking assistance:

DeKalb County School District Family IMPACT Hub
email: family_engagement@dekalbschoolsga.org
Parent & Family Wrap-Around Services: 404.759.6909

For information regarding this article, please contact Richard Stephens II at

Our Newsletter

Thank you for visiting the  DCSD Family Engagement Newsletter. Here you will find all the information you need to stay up-to-date with current events, initiatives, resources, and supports for our parents, caregivers, and families.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding the newsletter please contact:

Stephanie Valentine-Forbes:

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DCSD Family Engagement
1701 Mountain Industrial Blvd Stone Mountain, GA 30083
P: (678) 676-0384