In Newark, New Jersey, parent liaisons serve in each of the district’s schools to help families navigate questions, learn about available programs, and stay up to date on events such as parent-teacher conferences. The Newark Board of Education works closely with these parent liaisons and holds workforce development trainings to better prepare them for this work.
Within the past year, the Board has worked to develop a Community Directory, a resource for students, parents, and community members. The Community Directory provides a list of organizations and programs in Newark that are open to students and families. While the directory has existed for a couple of years, the Board has recently revamped it so that it is more user friendly and up to date. It now has filters so that users can filter by location and program type to find resources that best meet their needs, and it has been translated into 4 other languages besides English: Spanish, Portuguese, French, and French Creole.
Collaboration has been essential to the development of this resource. Starting as an idea in the Office of Federal Programs and Grants, other departments got involved, such as the Parent Engagement team and Communications Department. Most importantly, parent liaisons were some of the first to test out the directory and offer feedback on ways it can be improved. Jennifer Rodriguez, Coordinator at the Office of Federal Programs and Grants at the Newark Board of Education and Project Prevent Project Director, stresses the importance of feedback from parents and families and wishes they had involved them earlier on in the process.
The revamp of the directory has been a year-long process of vetting resources for accuracy and translating all the work. There are about 80-100 programs on the list, and Ms. Rodriguez hopes to continue to update it without having to rely on an external vendor. She claims the Board has been intentional about not wanting to rely on funding for this directory so that they can sustain it on their own and continue to keep parents and families in their district informed.
View the directory here: https://newarkresources.org/