Family-school collaboration: A systems approach and intervention for solving student problems

Date of Completion

January 1997


Education, Guidance and Counseling|Education, Educational Psychology|Sociology, Individual and Family Studies




Public Schools are confronted by the ever changing makeup of the typical family in our society today. Student growth, development, and performance is often affected by events and processes in the family unit. Students must contend with pressures associated with single parent homes, divorce, remarriage, blended families, day care providers, and significant others that may have positive and or negative effects on learning. Therefore, family systems interventions are viewed as viable treatment methods for resolving school problems related to family dysfunction. There has been recent interest in the theory and practice of family-school systems interventions in education as well as the therapeutic community. Application of family counseling in public schools presents a variety of issues and concerns related to educational philosophy, organizational tolerance, ethics, and training. Family involvement and family school collaboration is slowly emerging in state and federal legislation to enhance student development by considering all environmental influences in the ecosystem of the child and promoting family-school partnerships. This study utilized a qualitative approach and multiple methods such as surveys, case studies, focus groups, individual interviews, and non participatory observation of parents, teachers, administrators and counselors in two Connecticut school districts that use a family-school systems intervention model to resolve student problems. The study focused on: (1) Effectiveness and success of the program in the two school districts, (2) Process and procedures used in the application of family systems interventions, (3) Obstacles to program implementation and success, and (4) Training, experience and skills required to work with families in the school setting. The results suggest that family intervention models must be flexible in responding to complex needs and demands of families and school organizations. The utility of systems interventions was contingent upon the efficacy of systems change within the family and school structures. The "Home-School Collaboration Model" was effective in creating change and has challenged the two districts to make a paradigm shift regarding the mental health role of schools and involvement with families. ^