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October 8, 2021 @ 12:00 pm - 3:00 pm

2021 Symposium on Children


Symposium on Children

Challenging ourselves: Rethinking family engagement

Friday, October 8  •  12:00-3:00pm  •  Zoom


Partnering with families to enhance their children’s learning and development is a critical part of providing high quality early care and education. Meaningful engagement can positively influence children’s social and learning experiences, and has garnered attention as an important goal unto itself. Yet the ways in which early childhood systems engage families must take into account the diverse socioeconomic and racial backgrounds of families as well as their engagement needs.

Dr. Angel Harris, professor of sociology at Duke University, researches social inequity, policy, and education and joins us for this year’s Symposium to discuss family engagement. Dr. Harris’ book, The Broken Compass, examines engagement strategies for diverse socioeconomically and ethnically diverse backgrounds. Prepare for a day of provocative discussion and learning regarding 1) family engagement strategies tailored to meet family needs and 2) why particular engagement strategies work best for certain families.

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The Broken Compass was characterized by The Atlantic as the largest study ever conducted on parental involvement to date and has been discussed in over 100 media outlets and blogs including The New York Times, MSNBC, Haaretz, The Dutch Metro, BBC, and The Voice of Russia. Dr. Harris has also appeared on Fox News, Al Jazeera, and various NPR affiliates, and presented the findings at The White House.

This virtual event is free and open to all, but registration is required.


all times are in Eastern Standard Time (EST)

12:00 – 12:15pm


Dr. Laura Justice, executive director of the Schoenbaum Family Center and Crane Center for Early Childhood Research and Policy

Dean Donald Pope-Davis, PhD, College of Education and Human Ecology at The Ohio State University

Tanny Crane, President and Chief Executive Officer of Crane Group

12:15 – 1:15pm


Challenging ourselves: Rethinking family engagement

Dr. Angel Harris, professor of sociology and public policy at Duke University and author of The Broken Compass

1:15 – 1:30pm


1:30 – 2:30pm


BREAKOUT 1: Maximizing Family Engagement in Children’s Schooling

Encouraging parents to become more involved in their children’s academic lives has been at the center of American school reform efforts to enhance children’s achievement. The Broken Compass: Parental Involvement with Children’s Education examines not on whether parents should be more involved, but rather on whether greater parental involvement will solve many of the problems currently facing our schools. The book includes nearly every measure of parental involvement previously used and examines their implications on various academic outcomes. Examine if social class and racial disparities exist in parental involvement, and what forms of involvement lead to increases in achievement across different social class backgrounds and from each major racial group within the U.S. (i.e., whites, Asians, Hispanics, and blacks).

Dr. Angel Harris, professor of sociology and public policy at Duke University and author of The Broken Compass

BREAKOUT 2: Building Bridges not Blocks: Creating Pathways for Listening and Responding to Families and Communities

Alaskan Natives, American Indians, Asian Americans, Black Americans, Latinxs, Pacific Islanders, and immigrants of color experience poverty as well as racial and economic injustice. They have historically fought and continue to currently fight against oppression and structural and institutional barriers. Listening to their voices promotes understanding of what state and community programs, services, or initiatives can do to encourage enduring positive outcomes for children, families, and communities. For various reasons (e.g., implicit bias, breadth of geographic responsibility, scarcity mindset), state leaders may not be able to hear their voices or understand the value of listening to the voices, perspectives, and experiences of those they serve. Creating pathways to elevate the voices of Black, Native American, Latinx, immigrant, and other people of color recognizes the importance of listening to, learning from, and responding to those individuals who are furthest from opportunity, marginalized, or underserved. This session will offer practical steps in creating feedback loops with communities that are mutually beneficial to leaders and the communities.

Dr. Sherri Killins Stewart, director of systems alignment and integration and co-director of state services at BUILD Initiative

BREAKOUT 3: How a Behavioral Economic Framework Can Support Scaling of Early Childhood Interventions

Behavioral economics combines the theories of conventional economics with social psychology and cognitive decision-making. This framework can be helpful to family engagement programs as they scale by addressing feasibility, cost, and fidelity while also providing safe, nurturing, and stimulating environments for children during the transition. Through using a behavioral economic lens, programs can gain insights on parent decision-making related to: choice, fear of judgment, miscalibration, and social norms in order to maintain strong family engagement and connection. Specific examples of home visiting and parenting programs using this approach will be shared.

Dr. Lisa A. Gennetian, Pritzker Professor of Early Learning Policy Studies, professor in the Sanford School of Public Policy, and faculty affiliate in the Center for Child and Family Policy at Duke University and author of How a Behavioral Economic Framework Can Support Scaling of Early Childhood Interventions

BREAKOUT 4: Strengthening Families through a Community Engagement Hub Approach

The Starting Point Learning Center is a neighborhood early childhood center offering high-quality education to families within its Columbus, Ohio community. Director Melissa Johnson engages regularly with families both through her work at the center and as an active member of the neighborhood herself – roles which grounded her belief that children best grow and develop through strong families. During the pandemic, it became clear that families in her community needed more help, so Melissa founded the Family Adolescent & Child Community Engagement Service (FACCES) to offer holistic support through comprehensive community resources. FACCES currently offers culinary education, mental wellness, legacy development, physical wellness, and child advocacy. In this session, Melissa will share about her entrepreneurial launch of FACCES and how she is building the service. Hear lessons her and her team are learning along the way and the impact they’ve seen within their community.

Melissa Johnson, director of The Starting Point Learning Center and founder of the Family Adolescent & Child Community Engagement Service (FACCES)

2:30 – 3:00pm


How to apply what we’ve learned

Dr. Barbara Boone, principal investigator and director of the Ohio Statewide Family Engagement Center in the Center on Education and Training for Employment


  • Register once, then the day before the event you will receive an email with all needed links and information for the day.
  • Live captioning will be provided. Additional requests for accommodations can be made during registration.
  • Certificates of attendance are available and should be noted during registration. If you are seeking Ohio-approved credits (*pending approval), please provide your OPIN number during registration.

In partnership with:


Zoom Webinar


Crane Center for Early Childhood Research and Policy