A family engagement specialist is an individual who fulfills the informational needs of parents and children enrolled in a program, usually a disability initiative. It is his or her responsibility to plan and direct the activities of the program so that they meet the goals and objectives that need to be achieved. Typically, it is the job of a family engagement specialist to coordinate efforts to the quality, quantity and access of parenting education services and promote education and involvement of parenting education efforts.
To be considered an eligible candidate to work as a family engagement specialist, one has to possess a bachelor’s degree in education or special education, depending on the specific requirements of the job. Working knowledge of current principles of family engagement, current local and state laws, and public policies is also essential. If you have had some experience in working with family engagement professionals, families of children with disabilities and adults with disabilities, you stand a good chance of being employed.
Since rehabilitation is a major concern when performing the duties of a family engagement specialist, it is necessary for you to possess knowledge of IDEA and ADA along with defined sections of the Rehabilitation Act. Here is a list of duties that you will be performing as a family engagement specialist on any given work day:
• Build relationships with families and professionals by concentrating efforts of agencies that specialize in family involvement and engagement
• Provide parents of children with disabilities with information on state and federal disability laws and assist with disability education provisions
• Serve as a liaison between student, home, school and community services to provide information regarding state and federal rules and regulations
• Plan and provide information of activities that involve parents in a bid to enhance the school environment
• Work with both parents and teachers to improve the achievement levels of individual students, based on their specific strengths
• Develop, maintain and implement a system in which children and parents enrolled in a program are provided with detailed child and family development services
• Apply established criteria in the selection of program participants and present philosophy of family engagement to all professionals involved in the program
• Coordinate and assist with staff training initiatives and provide technical assistance and counseling to teachers and home visitors
• Provide orientation to parents in the philosophy, policies and practices of parent involvement, especially with head-start programs
• Create and maintain effective and meaningful relationships between participants and community resources