State law requires districts to establish school-community partnerships to address student needs.
200-RICR-20-10-1.3.2 Supportive and Nurturing School Community.
G. Student, Family, and Community Engagement
- Each LEA shall facilitate partnerships with community organizations and agencies, municipal entities, and businesses to meet the needs of students and families. Therefore, each LEA shall establish communication strategies that will engage community partners, including:
- a. Ensuring community representation on the school improvement team or other decision-making teams;
- b. Identifying and recruiting businesses to provide career exploration activities for students;
- c. Soliciting community organizations or business members to mentor students;
- d. Facilitating on-site services of local organizations at the school, e.g. counseling, food pantry, tax assistance, legal aid; and
- e. Recruiting volunteers from community organizations and businesses.
200-RICR-20-10-1.3.3 Health and Social Service Supports
A. Health, mental health, and social service needs of children and their families may be barriers to academic success. Each LEA shall therefore provide and/or facilitate partnerships with community agencies to provide, on site or through referral, a broad array of services and supports to meet these needs.
Rhode Island ESSA State Plan
The ESSA state plan describes statewide partnerships to build a supportive system.
State of Rhode Island General Laws § 16-21.2-2. Declaration of purpose
In recognition of the growing problem of substance use and abuse that municipalities face the purpose of this chapter is as follows: (1) To promote the opportunity for municipalities to establish a comprehensive substance abuse prevention program addressing the specific needs of each individual municipality. (2) To encourage the development of partnership among municipal governments, school systems, parents, and human service providers to serve the interest of the community in addressing the need for a comprehensive substance abuse prevention program. (3) To promote a substance abuse prevention program in every community. (4) To provide financial assistance for the planning, establishment, and operation of substance abuse prevention programs. (5) To encourage municipal governments, in cooperation with school systems and human services organizations to jointly assess the extent of the substance abuse problem in their community.
State of Rhode Island General Laws § 16-73-1. Legislative findings
It is found and declared that: (1) All children are capable of success and schools are the centers of vibrant communities. The growing social needs of children directly affect their ability to perform successfully in school because health, emotional, social, and family problems can impede learning. (2) Schools are most effective when families take active roles in the education of children. Community schools are in a unique position to provide the vital links between education, social services, and health care to children and their families. (3) It is important that schools be assisted in fulfilling the critical function of coordinating the delivery of comprehensive social services at or near the site of public schools to address the particular needs of each school community.
State of Rhode Island General Laws § 16-73-1.1. Definition
Child opportunity zone, Rhode Island's community school initiative, means a site at or near a school that provides: early childhood initiatives; before-school, after-school, and summer enrichment programs; health and mental health services; parent engagement, adult education, workforce development training; or any combination of these programs based upon the students and the community's needs.
State of Rhode Island General Laws § 16-73-2. Creation of plan
The children's cabinet shall incorporate into its strategic plan "child opportunity zones" as a means to deliver comprehensive and coordinated social services at or near public school sites. The commissioner of elementary and secondary education shall undertake activities including, but not limited to, the award of and administration of grants to further the purpose set forth in this chapter.
State of Rhode Island General Laws § 16-73-5. Purpose
The purpose of child opportunity zones is to implement programs related to the specific community needs that ultimately increase student performance in school. The child opportunity zone shall provide a means to integrate education, health, and social services into schools and link families to the school and community resources. The child opportunity zone may operate programs, including, but not limited to: early childhood initiatives; before-school, after-school and summer enrichment; family engagement initiatives; adult education and family literacy programs based upon community needs.
State of Rhode Island General Laws § 16-94-5. Duties of the council.
(a) The duties of the family engagement advisory council shall include the following: (1) The council shall research and generate a series of recommendations on how to develop family engagement policies and practices that meet the following principles and Standard for family-school partnerships: (i) Welcome all families to be active participants in the life of the school, so that they feel valued, connected to each other, to school staff, and to what students are learning in class; (ii) Communicate effectively by ensuring regular two-way, meaningful communication between family members and local educational agency and school staff in a manner, language, and mode of technology that family members can understand and access; (iii) Support student success by fostering continuous collaboration between family members and local educational agency and school staff to support student learning and healthy development at school and at home; (iv) Speak up for every child and empower family members to be advocates for all students within the school; (v) Share power and assure that family members, local educational agencies, and school staff are equal partners in family engagement decision making; (vi) Collaborate with community and partner with community organizations and groups to turn the school into a hub of community life; (vii) Create a continuum of family engagement in student learning and development from cradle to career; (viii) Train and support superintendents, principals, and teachers to fully engage families in the education of their children; (ix) Participate in evaluating the effectiveness of family engagement strategies and policies; and (x) Participate in developing recommendations for creating a positive school climate and safe and healthy schools. All such recommendations shall be forwarded to the board of regents, governor's office, department of education, and local school districts.
(2) Provide assistance and advice to the board of regents, governor's office, department of education, and local school districts on family engagement in Rhode Island public schools and the impact on student achievement, communication, partnerships with community and other groups, and school family engagement practices and strategies. (3) To identify best practices in family engagement in Rhode Island public schools as well as in other states, and to develop recommendations on how to incorporate, implement, or adopt such practices in Rhode Island public schools. (4) Make recommendations to the board of regents, governor's office, department of education, and local school districts, on state resources and materials which could promote and improve family engagement in Rhode Island public schools. (b) The council shall submit an annual report to the board of regents, the governor, the department of education, and local school districts summarizing the council's activities during the year.