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The cases in the Create Your Own Case Toolkit were developed by the Community Engagement Team (CET) outreach workers in the Department of Human Service Programs in Cambridge, Massachusetts. You can use the cases to draw inspiration for your own case writing or as a basis for discussions with others to improve your family engagement skills and knowledge.

Photo of Christopher HopeChristopher Hope, a Community Engagement Team outreach worker, shares what he learned from writing a case.

Writing the case and working with John taught me that you have to take time to listen to and understand other people’s stories. There are a lot of reasons that families might not get involved. For example, a lack of time, money, child care, and transportation all might be barriers to participation. I wanted to share the story that I did because it taught me that sometimes, other emotional issues might be deterrents to family engagement. To read Christopher’s case, visit Case 2: Reaching John: When Disengagement Is Not What It May Seem.
Photo of Carrine BuryCarrine Bury, a Community Engagement Team outreach worker, shares how writing a case changed the way she approaches her work.

The experience of writing a case has changed how I approach my work. Now, when I work with a family, I like to imagine that I am writing a case about the situation. I always like to think about where the communication breakdown is, what I am missing, and what I should do about it. Through my case, I want to show others that they should never give up or be discouraged when working with families. It is always possible to find a solution—no matter how unexpected that solution might be. The family I wrote about was a real challenge for me. Despite many, many attempts, I was unable to get the mother to attend any of the events I had organized. It was only through determination and being open to all possibilities that I was able to develop a good relationship with her. To read Carrine’s case, visit Case 1: When You Need to Change Your Strategy.

CASE 1: When You Need to Change Your Strategy
Carrine Bury
Despite multiple invitations from an outreach worker, a mother chooses not to attend a series of community parenting workshops. In this case you will learn about the family perspective and grapple with what the outreach worker can do.

CASE 2: Reaching John: When Disengagement Is Not What It May Seem
Christopher Hope
A grandfather wants to participate in a series of community literacy workshops but is hampered by his own negative experiences learning to read. In this case you will consider how a community worker might earn the grandfather’s trust.

CASE 3: The Importance of Not Judging 
Michelle Godfrey
In this case you will consider how families and afterschool staff can build trusting relationships to support children’s behaviors, growth, and development, especially when families are going through difficult times. 

CASE 4: Making Your Intent Clear
Tagasech Wabeto  
An outreach worker leaves multiple messages with a family about attending English classes, but the family never returns the calls. In this case you will learn about the family perspective and brainstorm what the outreach worker can do.

CASE 5: Understanding the American School System
Rabeya Akther
An outreach worker is thrown off guard when she learns that a father has not been sending his 7-year-old son to school. In this case you will consider what an outreach worker can say and do in this difficult situation.

CASE 6: The Real Meaning of Back to School Night  
Rabeya Akther
A mother of an elementary school student who recently immigrated to the United States chooses not to attend her daughter’s Back to School Night event. In this case you will think about strategies to encourage the mother to attend.

CASE 7: Engaging the Whole Family to Find a Solution 
Naima Abdullah
A family who has immigrated to the United States refuses to apply for nutrition assistance because of their cultural beliefs. In this case you will consider what an outreach worker can say and do in this sensitive situation.

CASE 8: When Translation is Not Enough 
Margulien Saintus
A preschool director is frustrated when a mother who recently immigrated to the United States does not respond to letters regarding tuition payments for the school year. In this case you will consider elements of effective communication.



The Create Your Own Case Toolkit is part of Harvard Family Research Project’s professional development efforts to build capacity for partnerships between families, schools, and communities. The toolkit consists of three components: (1) six steps to follow, with related exercises,  (2) a collection of family engagement cases, and (3) a Facilitators Guide. To stay up-to-date on Harvard Family Research Project's latest resources, please visit our subscription center.

 

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