Critical and Culturally Sustaining School Practices for Engaging Diverse Families

Sarah Mae Olivar, Fordham University


In this qualitative study, the author used case study research methods to explore school practices for engaging racially, ethnically, linguistically, socioeconomically, and structurally diverse families in their children’s education. In addition, this study explored how families perceive their roles in their children’s education and provided space in scholarly discourse for them—as well as the school leaders, teachers, and staff who support them—to shed light on the factors that underlie their experiences in family engagement. The author developed a conceptual framework that builds upon Hoover-Dempsey and Sandler’s (1997) model of the parental involvement process by examining it through the lenses of critical race theory, culturally responsive and sustaining practices, the familial capital concept of funds of knowledge, and bridging cultures framework. The author found successfully engaging families from diverse cultural backgrounds begins by adopting a culturally responsive and strength-based mindset and requires facilitating involvement opportunities that not only are meaningful and relevant to families’ lives and perceived needs but also draw from and sustain their cultural knowledge, skills, practices, and experiences. In addition, for the families in this study, family engagement helps them serve as role models for positive behavior and build a community within their children’s school.

Subject Area

Education|Educational administration

Recommended Citation

Olivar, Sarah Mae, "Critical and Culturally Sustaining School Practices for Engaging Diverse Families" (2023). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI30492557.