Dr. Joyce Epstein's Model
In her research report titled Caring for the Children We Share Dr. Epstein states, "The way schools care about children is reflected in the way schools care about the children's families. If educators view children simply as students, they are likely to see the family as separate from the school. That is, the family is expected to do its job and leave the education of children to the schools. If educators view students as children, they are likely to see both the family and the community as partners with the school in children's education and development. Partners recognize their shared interest in and responsibilities for children, and they work together to create better programs and opportunities for students.
There are many reasons for developing school, family and community partnerships. They can improve school programs and school climate, provide family services and support, increase parents' skills and leadership, connect families with others in the school and in the community and help teachers with their work. However, the main reason to create such partnerships is to help all youngsters succeed in school and in later life. When parents, teachers, students, and others view one another as partners in education, a caring community forms around students and begins its work.
Epstein's Overlapping Spheres of Influence
The overlapping spheres of influence recognize that there are three major contexts in which students learn and grow - the family, the school, and the community. In this model, there are some practices that schools, families, and communities conduct separately and some they conduct jointly in order to influence children's learning and development.
The model locates the student at the center. The inarguable fact is that students are the main actors in their education, development, and success in school. School, family, and community partnerships cannot simply produce successful students. Rather, partnership activities may be designed to engage, guide, energize, and motivate students to produce their own successes. The assumption is that if children feel cared for and encouraged to work hard in the role of student they are more likely to do their best to learn to read, write, calculate, and learn other skills and talents and to remain in school.
Epstein's Six Types of Involvement
A framework of six major types of involvement has evolved from many studies and from many years of work by educators and families in elementary, middle, and high schools. The framework allows schools to develop more comprehensive programs of school, family and community partnership.
Each type of involvement induces many different practices of partnership and implementation of partnerships will vary. However, if done well, all can positively impact students, teachers and parents. A well-designed and well-implemented program will include all six types of involvement to some degree and be linked to the individual school goals.