Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

An Examination of School Counselor Involvement in School-Family-Community Partnerships

Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

An Examination of School Counselor Involvement in School-Family-Community Partnerships

Article excerpt

The study in this article investigated school counselor involvement in school-family-community partnerships and factors that influence such involvement. Participants were 235 members of the American School Counselor Association. Factor analyses of responses to the survey designed specifically for this study defined a set of factors that were used to examine variations in school counselor involvement in partnerships. Regression analyses revealed that (a) collaborative school climate, (b) school counselor role perceptions, (c) school counselor confidence in ability to build partnerships, and (d) school counselor attitudes about partnerships were significantly related to the counselors' involvement in school-family-community partnerships. Implications for school counselor training, practice, and research are discussed.

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School-family-community partnerships are collaborative relationships in which school professionals partner with family and community members and community-based organizations, including businesses, churches, libraries, and social service agencies, to implement programs and activities to help students succeed (Bryan, 2003, 2005; Epstein, 1995). Over the past decade, the participation of professional school counselors in the development and implementation of school-family-community partnerships has been endorsed and strongly encouraged in the literature (Atkinson & Juntunen, 1994; Bemak, 2000; Bryan, 2005; Colbert, 1996; Dedmond, 1991; Hobbs & Collison, 1995; Keys & Lockhart, 1999; Lapan, Osana, Tucker, & Kosciulek, 2002; Mitchell & Bryan, 2007; Taylor & Adelman, 2000; Walsh, Howard, & Buckley, 1999). These authors believe that school-family-community partnerships provide integral system support for the school counseling program and that school counselors, if involved in such partnerships, may better meet the personal/social, academic, and career needs of larger numbers of students. Furthermore, they believe that school counselors have the necessary skills (e.g., coordination, consultation, collaboration) to carry out tasks related to promoting, developing, and implementing school-family-community partnerships (Bemak; Bryan, 2005; Colbert; Keys, Bemak, Carpenter, & King-Sears, 1998; Mitchell & Bryan; Porter, Epp, & Bryant, 2000; Taylor & Adelman).

In addition to possessing the skills necessary to develop and implement school-family-community partnerships, the consensus among many school counseling professionals seems to be that school counselors already engage in roles that are consistent with facilitators and initiators of school-family-community partnerships (Atkinson & Juntunen, 1994; Bemak, 2000; Bryan, 2005; Bryan & Holcomb-McCoy, 2004, 2006; Taylor & Adelman, 2000). These include leadership, collaboration, advocacy, and liaison roles. Role is a term used to describe a set of behaviors expected of people as a result of their social or institutional position or profession (Katz & Kahn, 1966). Role behaviors are tasks that individuals carry out in response to their perceptions of their role. As a result of an in-depth examination of the school counseling literature (e.g., Atkinson & Juntunen; Lapan et al., 2002; Taylor & Adelman), we found that 18 partnership role behaviors are being promoted for school counselors. These include helping parents, family, and community members organize support programs for students, collaborating with community agency professionals, providing parent education workshops and seminars, collaborating with local businesses and industries, and conducting home visits to families, to name a few (see Table 1). It is not clear whether these 18 role behaviors are unique or whether they can be subsumed under more general roles (e.g., collaboration, leadership, advocacy, liaison), because considerable overlap exists in the way in which they are described in the literature.

There is no previous theoretical framework explaining what factors influence school counselors' involvement in school-family-community partnerships. …

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