Finding Your Voice

What is Finding your Voice?
Finding Your Voice (FYV) is a program that prepares parents and family members of public school students to better engage with schools and participate in their children’s education. FYV has been offered to hundreds of participants across the State of Washington.

Who created the program?
The program was created by the Washington State Office of the Education Ombuds(OEO). OEO resolves conflict and problems between parents and schools that affect student learning and is Washington’s lead agency for family engagement in education.

Why was the program created?
OEO developed this program in response to the needs expressed by the thousands of parents and family members the agency has worked with. The majority their critical need to understand the education system, the role they can play in public education and how to partner with educators to support student academic success.

What are the goals of this program?
Research shows that an important element of successful parent engagement is the level of parents’ sense of efficacy. In other words, how confident parents feel in their ability to contribute to their child’s education. The goal of this program is to help parents and family members increase their sense of efficacy and their capacity to partner with schools, by equipping them with the necessary skills and knowledge.

Why is it called a preparation program?
If we prepare teachers to educate children, why not prepare parents? Prepared parents and family members can better advocate for their students, support learning and fully participate in public education.

How is the program offered?
The program is offered by OEO directly to parents and family members in various formats, including a 2-day conference, a weekly academy or a Parent Institute format. OEO has also created an innovative “Training of Trainers” model that is offered in a 3-day seminar format that includes 2 days of classroom instruction and one practicum day. Trainers become certified by OEO and commit to bringing the program to families in their schools and communities. They join the FYV trainers’ network hosted by OEO on line at: www.parentprep.org. In addition, OEO provides materials, resources, technical assistance and trainer refresher classes.

Who can participate in this program?
The FYV parent preparation program is open to parents and other adults who care for children attending public schools. The Training of Trainers program is open to educators, school staff, community professionals, parent leaders and others who work with families of public school students. Prospective FYV trainers should have prior teaching or training experience and some knowledge of public education.

What does the curriculum include?
The curriculum is formed by 8 basic components or modules:

  • Understanding the Public Education System
  • Achievement gap, test scores and data
  • Engaging and communicating with public schools
  • Participating in the legislative process/Civic engagement
  • Preparing students for college and career
  • Student and parent rights
  • School Discipline
  • Preventing and addressing student bullying and cyber-bullying

The curriculum is taught through various modalities including role-plays, lectures, group discussions, group learning and multimedia. Extra or different modules can also be customized by OEO.

What about limited English proficient participants?
Interpreters may be available and utilize the agency’s wireless simultaneous interpretation system to meet the needs of limited English proficient participants. OEO also trains bilingual individuals who can offer the FYV program in their native language.

Is there a fee for this program?
OEO frequently partners with school districts and/or community-based organizations so that FYV can be offered at a lower cost or no cost to participants.