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Families' perceptions and practices of parent involvement in Early Childhood Care and Education Programs

Dissertation
Author: Vilma E. Cardona
Abstract:
This qualitative interview study examined the understanding of parent involvement in diverse families with a strong focus on issues of ethnicity, social class and cultural perspectives of their parental beliefs and values, specifically regarding family involvement. The limited research with diverse families, particularly regarding ethnic and social identity in cultural context, as factors that influence family involvement originated this study. The time is ripe to study diverse families as a window to understand the changes families in the U.S. are going through, to better represent the current make up of the population in this country. It is my purpose in this study to create an empathic space for counselors working with families, to be sensible and skilled to build meaningful relationships with them. Participants in the study included nine family members of six diverse families, with children enrolled in three Early Childhood Care and Education Programs. The main method of data collection was in-depth interviews comprised of Asian, East Asian, Latin, Euro-American and European origin family members. A secondary set of data collection was non-participant observations at the settings. The findings of this study revealed that (1) the way families understand parent involvement in strongly influence by issues of ethnicity, social class, level of education and language, (2) the central role of the family culture was emphasized by family members in the Latin and Asian participants, (3) the impact of these factors on parental family involvement practices were variable.

v TABLE OF CONTENTS DEDICATION ............................................................................................................................................. iii ACKOWLEDGEMENTS ............................................................................................................................iv LIST OF TABLES ..................................................................................................................................... vii PREFACE .................................................................................................................................................. viii Chapter One................................................................................................................................................... 1 Introduction ................................................................................................................................................ 1 Defining Family Involvement ..................................................................................................................... 2 Purpose of the Study ................................................................................................................................... 7 Research Questions .................................................................................................................................... 7 Significance of the Study ............................................................................................................................. 8 Limitations of the Study .............................................................................................................................. 9 Summary ................................................................................................................................................... 10 Chapter Two: Literature Review ............................................................................................................... 11 Introduction .............................................................................................................................................. 11 Ecological Framework in Human Development....................................................................................... 11 Families and Cultural Diversity ............................................................................................................... 13 Family Involvement .................................................................................................................................. 17 Culture and Parenting ......................................................................................................................... 17 School-Based Definitions of Family Involvement ................................................................................ 18 Home-Based Family Involvement ........................................................................................................ 21 Factors Influencing Families Perceptions ........................................................................................... 32

Family Life, Parenting Practices and Social Class ............................................................................. 32 Summary ................................................................................................................................................... 32 Chapter Three ............................................................................................................................................. 33 Methodology ............................................................................................................................................. 33 Theoretical Perspective ....................................................................................................................... 33 Methodological Stance ........................................................................................................................ 34 The Researcher .................................................................................................................................... 37 Now, Getting into the Stage ................................................................................................................. 39 Self-Discovery as a Site of ‘Ethically Advocated Space’ ..................................................................... 40 Research Sites ...................................................................................................................................... 43 Orange Program .................................................................................................................................. 45 Yellow Program ................................................................................................................................... 46 Recruiting Participants ........................................................................................................................ 47 Participants.......................................................................................................................................... 47 Table 1. Distribution of participants by age, gender, nationality and number of children ................ 48 Gaining Access to the Settings ............................................................................................................. 49 Interviews ............................................................................................................................................. 50

vi Guiding Interview Questions ............................................................................................................... 52 Transcripts from Interviews ................................................................................................................. 53 Observations ............................................................................................................................................. 53 Field Notes ............................................................................................................................................... 55 Data Analysis Methods ............................................................................................................................. 56 Table 2. Within-and Across-Analytic Strategies for a Study of Family Involvement Practices ................ 57 Peer Debriefing ........................................................................................................................................ 58 Trustworthiness ........................................................................................................................................ 58 Data Triangulation ................................................................................................................................... 59 Researcher Journal .................................................................................................................................. 61 Chapter Four: Findings and Discussion .................................................................................................... 63 Introduction .............................................................................................................................................. 63 Table 3. Overarching Themes and Sub-themes Grouped using the Ecological Framework .................... 64 Continuity in Family Life Dynamics ......................................................................................................... 64 Family Dynamics and Social Class .......................................................................................................... 69 Family Life, Cultural/Ethnic Identity ................................................................................................... 74 Immigration and Acculturation Process .............................................................................................. 78 Individualist/Collectivistic Perspective................................................................................................ 80

Family Involvement Practices .................................................................................................................. 81 School-Based Involvement Practices ................................................................................................... 81 Home-Based Involvement Practices .................................................................................................... 83 Home-School Relationships ...................................................................................................................... 84 Social Respect ...................................................................................................................................... 85 Personal Regard .................................................................................................................................. 86 Chapter Five: Conclusions and Implications ............................................................................................ 96 Conclusions .............................................................................................................................................. 96 General Implications .............................................................................................................................. 103 Theoretical Implications .................................................................................................................... 103 Research Implications........................................................................................................................ 104 Applied Implications .......................................................................................................................... 105 Future Directions ............................................................................................................................... 108

vii LIST OF TABLES

Table 1. Distribution of participants by age, gender, nationality, and number of children Table 2. Within-and Across-Analytic Strategies for a Study of Family Involvement Practices Table 3. Overarching Themes and Sub-themes Grouped using the Ecological Framework

viii

PREFACE I had the honor to be a UW panel member and present at the American Educational Research Association (AERA) with Dr. Patti Lather a feminist/poststructural researcher, who addressed her ethical struggles in two of her books, Getting Smart (1991) and Getting Lost (2007). Dr Lather commented on my methodological stance as an emergent scholar. Cardona writes of the seduction of research as praxis in counseling, a field that has always amazed me with its positivist hegemony, to this day. Social construction is a big move forward in this field, and commitment to the advocacy of openly critical perspectives even more so. To get to the post may be the “too much” in such a place where “research as praxis 1.0” is thinkable with self-reflexivity and self-discovery (what Cardona terms “me-search”) as a sort of royal road away from positivism and into “the interpretive turn.” This may be as much as the field can bear at this point in time although it does raise a specter of linear development from interpretive to critical to, most advanced of course, postmodern. But for a junior scholar attempting to be intelligible in a still largely positivist field, this may be edge enough. I in fact demand that my students learn interpretive issues inside out and upside down as to move into deconstructive zones without this is a folly, in my way of thinking about methodology. As Derrida says, in order to do deconstruction, you have to have something to deconstruct. This entails a deep understanding of the classic moves of a field and a practice. To the extent Cardona wants to work the edge of the post in her project, issues such as unlearning our privilege as a loss, troubling the innocence of emancipatory intentions, claims of authenticity and the limits of self-reflexivity, beginning to see the weight of that not so much as “I am not ready for that” as “what a dangerous thing, to situate oneself as the Great Emancipator. . . The Master of Truth and Justice” in Foucault’s devastating words—these should keep her on her toes in a way that hopefully won’t situate her outside the terms of intelligibility of the present state of her field of counseling education. P. Lather (personal communication, March 24, 2008)

1

Chapter One Introduction

It is well recognized that the foundation of children’s development and learning depends upon the inter-contextual nature of relationships between families and schools (e.g., Bronfebrenner, 1979; Lightfoot, 1978). Both systems share the responsibility for helping children to acquire knowledge and develop lifelong skills as well as to live in society (Coleman, 1997). In addition, family involvement in education is not a new concept and has long been a topic of interest among researchers, professionals working with families, and teachers across the life span. A growing body of research indicates family involvement has positive outcomes for children of different ages, their families and the schools they attend (Baker & Stevenson, 1986; Connors & Epstein, 1995; Epstein, 2001). Using an ecological framework, Bronfenbrenner (1979) suggested that not only do single settings contribute to a child’s development, most importantly is the nature of the relationships between adults in those settings that plays a critical role in development and learning. Bronfenbrenner also suggested the critical piece in creating a bridge between home and school is when families are involved in their children’s education. More recently, Patrikakou, Weissberg, Redding and Walberg (2005) documented that young children’s potential to unfold depends on the context in which they learn and develop as well as the interconnections among those contexts.

2 Almost every research study related to family-school interconnections take into account the importance of positive relationships between these two systems. However, there is often little indication of how the alliances might be built supported and sustained over time (Lightfoot, 2003). In Lightfoot’s perspective, this mutual interest does not necessarily implies that they have the same notions of how to best meet a child’s need, the author suggests that potentially creates conflict between the systems. Lightfoot states that it is possible to create boundaries and bridges between home-school that allow “ a level of creative tension, differences, perspectives, and opposing value systems” (p.41). Indeed, the poet Anzaldua (1987) writes about border crossing and its potential for conflict, and at the same time, the means for the voices of families and schools to become the crossroads, if we are willing to listen to them. On the other hand, even though the benefits of family involvement are well recognized, professionals working with families struggle to facilitate family involvement at a level that leads to important change (Knopf & Swick, 2007). Accordingly, research in the field is moving from the question “Is family involvement important?” to “How can we make family involvement happen effectively?” (Castro, Bryant, Peisner-Feinberg, & Skinner, 2004). Defining Family Involvement Family involvement has demonstrated significant gains in the cognitive, language and socio-emotional domains during early childhood (Castro et al., 2004). There is also a strong emphasis placed on home-school relationships in young children’s education; however, there has been little research regarding the quality of relationships among families and professionals working with young children, and even less attention has been

3 paid to family involvement with diverse populations, what it looks like particularly in programs serving children 3-5 years old (Bae, 2001). Different professional organizations working with families such as the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) developed standards for their members stressing the importance of relationship between families and programs to enhance children development. Developmentally appropriate practices occur within a context that supports the development of relationships between adults and children, among children, among teachers, and between teachers and families. Such a community reflects what is known about the social construction of knowledge and the importance of establishing a caring, inclusive community in which all children can develop and learn (NAEYC, 1997, p. 16). However, studies on family involvement traditionally use a limited definition of relationships between families and programs, often focused on mainstream families and their participation in activities at the school setting (Dunn & Norris, 2001; Hara & Burke, 1998; Reynolds, 1991). Many studies on home-school relationships have used a school- based definition, which may not be the same as the families’ definitions or perceptions of family involvement (Lawson, 2003). Consequently, the voices of families and specifically diverse families were not reflected in these studies. Baker and Soden (1998) conducted a study where they surveyed 200 researchers to clarify the definition of family involvement being explored in the studies and “how it will fit the broader definitions of parent involvement in order to create a coherent understanding of the different aspects of involvement” (p. 3). As a conclusion, they

4 recommended Epstein’s (1995) six-item classification system as proven useful for developing a widely accepted typology of family involvement. However, Chao (2000) argued that parental practices of family involvement reflect the broader level of cultural values or expectations families possess. As Lightfoot (2003) stated regarding family- teacher encounters: Every time parents and teachers encounter one another in the school setting, their conversations are shaped by their own autobiographical stories and by the broader cultural and historical narratives that inform their identities, their values and their sense of place in the world (p. 3). Lawson (2003) argued, “different perceptions of parent involvement implicate different epistemologies, different power, and some competing purposes” (p. 77). On the other hand, generic definitions provided by the literature can not be taken for granted. As a term, family involvement is generally used when schools are the unit of analysis, and the primary focus is academic achievement of children taking place at the school setting. In this scenario, the guiding question for family involvement according to Lawson and Briar (2003) is simple: “How can parents help the school and its teachers?” (p. 9). On the other hand, when families are the unit of analysis, Ducan et al., (2004) suggested that programs made a difference in the lives of individual family members and the whole family as a unit. These differences encompassed practices that helped families develop their social capital (their own family resources). Mann (2006) found that families do indeed have different understandings of involvement in their children’s education. Mann added, that teachers acknowledged the need to communicate with families regarding their perceptions of involvement, thus

5 teachers and administrators can use this knowledge when implementing practices for family involvement in their programs. However, many family members indicated they are rarely consulted on important issues regarding their child’s education and the importance of family-teacher relationships (Epstein, 1992; Swick, 1997). Even though several studies (e.g., Epstein & Becker, 1982; Lipman, 1997; Shunow & Harris, 2000) have given voice to teachers’ perceptions, the meanings and practices of family involvement in diverse families have not been sufficiently studied yet. An ecological perspective on family involvement suggests, “there are many ways families can be involved in their child’s early education without participating directly in school activities” (Sy, Rowley, & Schulenberg, 2007, p. 2). Using this perspective Chao (2000) proposed two general categories of involvement: managerial and structural. Managerial involvement includes direct hands-on practices while structural involvement includes indirect practices (Garcia-Coll et al., 2002). It may involve home-based, school- based, school-wide, and/or community-based activities (Christenson, Rounds, & Gorney, 1992). My study draws from these conceptualizations and defines family involvement as families’ beliefs and practices localized in a specific cultural context, aimed at promoting or enhancing children’s development and learning, within a network of warm responsive relationships between settings. This involvement may occur directly or indirectly, and across multiple contexts (Sy et al., 2007). I also draw from Urdanivia-English’s (2003) perspective defined family involvement as any involvement that influences the present or the future of the child, beyond academic achievement as a unique and universal goal for every child in every culture. Cultural Diversity and Family Involvement

6 One challenge to professionals working with young children and their families is to honor different perspectives as valid. Gonzalez-Mena (1997) stated that “understanding cultural differences is a subject that goes far beyond what holidays people celebrate and what foods they eat” (p. 11). Cultural continuity in school settings is critical for helping children develop an authentic sense of self, which can provide children with a context to understand who are they in their cultural and ethnic group (Brazelton & Greenspan, 2000). Counselors and educators working with cultural diverse families may need to recognize the cultural legacy (Lightfoot, 2003) that shapes home-school relationships. In this perspective, educators hold a position of power; thus, the relationships between schools and their communities functions as a microcosms to define equality, and justice in the U.S. society. As Lightfoot stated, “We [educators, researchers, teachers, counselors, administrators] witness the dramas surrounding immigration, assimilation, and indoctrination” in school settings (p. 29). Practicing an approach that values all families’ perspectives on family involvement may open and expand definitions of family involvement, thus learning from diverse families and valuing their backgrounds, developing relationships and environments that not just tolerate but embrace diversity. Therefore, when working with cultural diverse families there is a need for respect, and appreciation of multiple perspectives, we also may need to be particularly patient, sensitive, skilled in effective communication, and flexible in problem-solving (Brooks, 2004).

7 Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study was to explore how diverse families understand family involvement and what practices they use to enhance such involvement in the context of early childhood care and education settings. In this study, I tried to understand and describe current practices of family involvement from the participants’ perspective using three different dimensions a) ecological framework for child development, b) perspectives on culturally diverse families and c) approaches to family involvement. My aim is to facilitate an empathetic space for professionals working with diverse families through the day-to-day practice. I have provided some theoretical and applied implications for counselors and counselors in training, professionals working with families, and teachers to expand our practices of family involvement. Research Questions

In this study, I explored the following guiding research questions with regard to six families with children enrolled in three early childhood care and education programs. The overarching question is followed by three research questions. How do families participating in this study understand family involvement in the context of early childhood care and education programs? 1. How are families in the study engaging in school-based involvement practices? 2. How are families in the study engaging in home-based involvement practices? 3. What family involvement strategies do the families in this study wish for or want to occur in their child’s programs.

8 Significance of the Study Two primary dimensions support the significance of the study. 1. The relevance of using an ecological framework for human development Little research has been done using a conceptual framework that covers a multidimensional or an ecological approach to child development. Goffin (1996) assessed the relationship between child development knowledge and early childhood teacher preparation and suggested that there is a need to examine many traditional assumptions regarding present child development knowledge. Family professionals and early childhood educators also need to have a better understanding of human development and their families in context, to better be able to build relationships with them (Brooks, 2004). On the other hand, in family studies there seems to be a disconnection between the demographic reality of the United States and the population researchers study. McLoyd, Cause, Takeuchi, and Wilson (2000) conducted a review of research published over the past 10 years in social science journals and found the majority of studies do not reflect the current demographic composition of U.S. society. In particular, quantitative research often focuses on White-middle class families as the rule. Bronfenbrenner (1979) offers an ecological framework, which emphasizes the dynamic interactions of systems, which influence children and families to understand family involvement and home-school relationships practices, taking into account the socio-cultural context where families are embedded. Meanwhile, the other primary dimension is: 2. The importance of encouraging, building, supporting and sustaining family involvement practices in early childhood settings

9 The positive benefits of family involvement have been identified in different areas such as general student achievement (Fan, 2001), achievement in specific subject areas such as math and reading (Hoff, 2001), as well as behavioral, social and emotional development (Cai, Moyer, & Wang, 1997). A holistic approach for family involvement to build effective home-school relationships is critical for young children’s development and learning. Thus, this study may: (a) add to the literature a synthesis of research regarding family involvement practices, (b) provide information regarding families’ perceptions and practices currently used, (c) offer implications for effective practices for parent involvement from the families’ perspective, and (d) identify the hopes and dreams of the families participating in the study regarding parent involvement. Limitations of the Study This study is limited to six families who currently have children enrolled in three early childhood programs. Since the design is a qualitative interview study where interview strategies were the main method of data collection, the results cannot be generalized to other families. Some insights, however, may be helpful from the families’ perspectives to be used by professionals working with families. Some of the practices described by families as helpful, with appropriate adjustments, could be used in other programs. Since this study is limited to interviews with families, a prolonged engagement was not an aim for this study, which could limit the understanding of family involvement in the context of early childhood programs, and the factors enhancing connections for families on an everyday basis.

10 Summary While research supports the positive effects on child development and learning in young children when families are involved with schools, how to build, support and sustain those relationships, alliances and practices has yet to be established. In Chapter One, I have presented an overview of the study while focusing on families’ perceptions of parent involvement in early childhood programs. The conceptual organizers in the study, ecological framework, diverse families and practices of family involvement, are used as mechanisms to enhance child development. These conceptual organizers connect the threads that guide the research questions with the literature review.

11 Chapter Two: Literature Review Introduction I believe the best framework to encompass the inter-contextual nature of home- school relationships, within culturally diverse families, is an ecological framework. Such a framework allows for the inclusion of the impact that family involvement has on both children development as well as home-school relationships practices themselves. Therefore, I base this study upon Bronfenbrenner’s (1979) ecological framework which brings together psychology, sociology, anthropology, economics, and political science (Ceci, 2006). In addition to child development, Bronfenbrenner used his theory to address parenting, family involvement, cross-cultural studies, and the impact of social context on future generations. An ecological framework is also helpful to understand the cultural diversity that is central to family involvement for different reasons. Belief system, stereotypes, behaviors, culture and practices are influences that significantly effect how family involvement is perceived. Additionally, from the rapidly changing demographic trends transforming the makeup of the U.S., questions are been raised regarding the relationships between diverse families and schools, how to bridge these critical systems. Therefore the counseling profession has a critical role to play to address these issues. Ecological Framework in Human Development As suggested by Vygotsky (1978), socio-cultural backgrounds, experiences, and events influence development and learning. As Bronfenbrenner (2005) implied, an ecological framework is helpful to understand the many socio-cultural contexts present in the child’s growth and development. The ecological framework has demonstrated how

12 outcomes for young children were not determined solely by what was occurring in the immediate environment, but also by what was going on in the larger community and society. Bronfebrenner (1979) changed the understanding of child development and the way child development research was done by creating a model that includes the inter- contextual impact of larger society. What the model attempts to convey is that what happens to any person in the family impacts the total family dynamics (Swick, 2004). This framework explains human development as a result of a set of interacting ecological systems which operate together to influence child development. Also as stated by Bronfenbrenner, an ecological framework “takes into account the characteristics of the person as well as environmental characteristics, providing a more comprehensive model of human development” (p. 620). Bronfenbrenner (1979) conceptualized the ecological environment, or the context in which human development occurs, “as a set of nested structures, each inside the next, like a set of Russian dolls” (p.3). Bronfenbrenner’s framework is a series of concentric rings that represent the levels of the environment. The “innermost level is the immediate setting containing the developing person” (p.3). The interactions that occur within that immediate setting are “referred to as the microsystem” (p.7). Elements the developing child interacts with every day such as family and school would be included within the microsystem. The next level, the mesosystem, represents the interactions that take place between the microsystem and the exosystem. The mesosystem level is the linkage between the microsystem and the exosystem. The exosystem is the level outside of the mesosystem that is made up of “settings that do not involve the developing person as an active participant, but in which events occur that affect, or are affected by, what happens

13 in the setting containing the developing person” (p.25). The exosystem includes factors within the local community that have impact on the developing child such as neighborhood, health care providers, community resources such as libraries and parks, and places of family employment. The outermost level is macrosystem and is made up of the consistencies that exist in the culture or society as a whole and the “belief systems and ideology underlying such consistencies” (p.26). Mass media, government and cultural practices are included in the macrosystem in the ecological theory. Accordingly, this model of human development depends on the child’s ability to perceive and understand the ecological environment, the relationship with it and the ability to change within it. Replacing the widely used deficit model of society (Bronfebrenner, 1979) where individual differences such as gender, race, ethnicity and culture are seen as barriers and problems of adjustment, Bronfenbrenner, suggested a new blueprint. In this blueprint, his theory envisions the transformation of society into a bi- directional model of change and mutual influence. Families and Cultural Diversity In order to provide context and a common language for this study, several terms must be defined including family, culture, cultural diversity, race, ethnicity and social class. In this study, family is defined as a group of people with “shared, biological, legal, cultural, and/or emotional ties and some sense of a future together” (Trask & Hamon, 2007, p.4). Culture refers to “ the cluster of learned and shared beliefs, values…practices…behaviors…symbols…and attitudes…that are characteristic of a particular group of people” (Gardiner & Kosmitzki, 2005, p.4). Cultural diversity addresses “differences in beliefs, practices, and attitudes that exist in families and

14 individuals because of cultural backgrounds” (Trask et al., p.4). Race is a socially defined category based upon physical characteristics such as skin color (Lamanna & Reidman, 2006). Ethnicity is a concept that refers to a group’s “commonality of ancestry and history, through which have evolved shared values and customs over centuries” (McGoldrick, Giordano, & Garcia-Preto, 2005, p.2). For social class, this study is grounded on Kohn’s (1977) theoretical perspective where social class is measured by two indicators: education and occupational position. Currently, the study of culturally diverse families offers exciting opportunities for theory development in family dynamics and family involvement. As Daly (2003) stated, traditional family studies look at families as if “they are suspended in time, space and culture” (p.774). Positivistic approaches attempt to explicate family dynamics as if they correspond to permanent family patterns, unchallengeable over time. Daly also suggested that families are always in constant change; this is why culturally diverse families provide the possibility to understand some of these changes. By studying diverse families, we may be able to develop methodologies and approaches that will help us to understand all families. Several theoretical directions allow this line of thought. Ecological perspectives, as discussed previously, systems theory and symbolic interaction provide the framework that puts together the context for the analysis of family dynamics (Trask & Hamon, 2007). Systems theory explains family, school and community as separate systems that are intertwined. There are boundaries among these sub-systems and their interconnectedness and interdependence suggests that a change in one system creates changes in the other. With communication as the link among these three systems, and as

15 stated by Trask and Hamon (2007) “there is a feedback loop among systems that communicates the expectations and demands of the situations that affect the goal setting and the actions of each individual” (p. 196). Minuchin (1984) also offered some guiding principles to understand family dynamics. For example, behavior takes place in a system context; individual development is intimately interrelated with the family’s development; family development is systematic and events that influence any family member have some direct or indirect influence on the entire family system. In this theoretical perspective the three contexts of home, school and community are linked structures, existing in a specific cultural context, preferably supporting and sustaining each other. The civil rights movement in the 1960s provided some criticism toward mainstream culture biases in knowledge of child development and culturally diverse families, which was mostly based on studies involving white middle-class families. During the civil rights movement, the belief that professionals know what is best for all families and children’s development was questioned (Powell & Diamond, 1995), and the relationships between home and school were also questioned. As suggested by Colombo (2006), even though family involvement with schools has been found as a powerful influence in child development process, “it’s not an equal opportunity practice…relationships are formed with relative ease when groups share common culture, language, and background” (p. 315). Colombo also suggested family professionals and educators are not trained on identifying strengths and funds of knowledge (the ways of knowing, learning, and acting) that culturally diverse families posses.

Full document contains 141 pages
Abstract: This qualitative interview study examined the understanding of parent involvement in diverse families with a strong focus on issues of ethnicity, social class and cultural perspectives of their parental beliefs and values, specifically regarding family involvement. The limited research with diverse families, particularly regarding ethnic and social identity in cultural context, as factors that influence family involvement originated this study. The time is ripe to study diverse families as a window to understand the changes families in the U.S. are going through, to better represent the current make up of the population in this country. It is my purpose in this study to create an empathic space for counselors working with families, to be sensible and skilled to build meaningful relationships with them. Participants in the study included nine family members of six diverse families, with children enrolled in three Early Childhood Care and Education Programs. The main method of data collection was in-depth interviews comprised of Asian, East Asian, Latin, Euro-American and European origin family members. A secondary set of data collection was non-participant observations at the settings. The findings of this study revealed that (1) the way families understand parent involvement in strongly influence by issues of ethnicity, social class, level of education and language, (2) the central role of the family culture was emphasized by family members in the Latin and Asian participants, (3) the impact of these factors on parental family involvement practices were variable.