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This toolkit is based on the work of the Community Engagement Team (CET), in the Department of Human Service Programs, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The CET is a multi-agency collaborative that reaches out to underserved Cambridge families and connects them to community events and resources, develops community leaders, and supports agencies in working with a diverse community. The cases described in this toolkit were written by the CET outreach workers in the spring of 2013 for a one-day networking event for multiple agencies throughout Cambridge. To learn more about the CET or ask questions about the cases, please contact Carole Sousa at: firstname.lastname@example.org
For more than 20 years, Harvard Family Research Project (HFRP) has been using cases to prepare practitioners to engage with families effectively. When used to hone family engagement skills, the case method challenges practitioners to consider multiple perspectives; think critically about real-world issues; communicate effectively; consider how to build relationships; identify family strengths; and apply skills and knowledge about families in different situations. Access HFRP's Family Engagement Teaching Case Series.
Despite multiple invitations from a family outreach worker, a mother chooses not to attend a series of community parenting workshops. The mother fears that the outreach worker is trying to break up her marriage. What can the outreach worker do?
A family outreach worker is thrown off guard when she learns that a father has not been sending his 7-year-old son to school. What should she say to the father?1
WHAT IS THE CREATE YOUR OWN CASE TOOLKIT?
When you think about what you would do in situations—or cases—such as these, you develop the knowledge, skills, and attitudes that are essential for working successfully with families. A case is basically a story that invites critical thinking and problem solving. Unlike most stories, though, cases leave readers with lingering questions.
Just as reading and thinking about family engagement cases contribute to your ability to work with families, so, too, does writing your own case. That’s why, we, Harvard Family Research Project, and the Community Engagement Team in the Department of Human Services in Cambridge, Massachusetts, have developed the Create Your Own Case Toolkit. The primary purpose of the Create Your Own Case Toolkit is to lead you through steps and exercises to guide you in writing your own case.
This toolkit is divided into three parts:
Six steps to follow, with related exercises
This toolkit provides six steps to help you write a case. Each step includes an introduction and exercises to help you think about how to put your own case together.
A collection of family engagement cases
This toolkit also includes a collection of eight cases that you can use for inspiration and guidance in writing your own case.
A Facilitators Guide
Developed for faculty, professional development specialists, and supervisors, the Facilitators Guide offers specific ideas in using the Create Your Own Case Toolkit in a variety of professional development settings.
HOW CAN THE TOOLKIT BE USED?
Cases are powerful practitioner-driven learning tools. Through the questions they raise and the emotions they call into play, they can change viewpoints and even ways of acting. They also confirm that family engagement is not a “one size fits all” model, but rather, a process built on relationships and communication. Although the primary purpose of this toolkit is to help those who work with families use their expertise to write their own cases, the resources provided can be used separately, in undergraduate and graduate courses on family engagement topics and in a variety of different professional development settings. The toolkit can also be used with families and community members. As one example, the cases in the toolkit can be used as the basis for conversations among a small group of parents and practitioners to promote deep reflection and collaboration.
HOW CAN THIS TOOLKIT HELP YOU?
This toolkit will help you:
HOW CAN I LEARN MORE?
Please e-mail Margaret Caspe with your cases, ideas, or any other feedback you might have about this toolkit.
1 These summaries are taken from cases written by community outreach workers from the Community Engagement Team (CET) in the Department of Human Service Programs in Cambridge, Massachusetts. To read the full cases, along with their resolutions, visit the Case Collection.