What is an essential service? Certainly in the United States it is running water, waste disposal systems, roads and freeways, electricity and gas, and the list could go on and on. We also consider education an essential service—we are committed to setting the next generation for success, even though we aren’t in agreement as to how that education should look. So the question is “How can you become a viable part of this essential educational service for the youth in your program?”
Although you have many partners when you work with youth, two of the most essential are the parents or caregivers and the school day that works with youth during the instructional day. Developing a close partnership with both of these entities helps to create a seamless day for youth which will go a long way in helping your program become part of this essential service. So, how do you go about establishing this close relationship? I would suggest that you take a lesson from the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Habit number 5 is “Seek first to understand before being understood.” This is outstanding advice. Instead of approaching the relationship from the point of view of what you need, find out what the school day and caregivers need from you. Certainly you are not going to agree to something that would go against your beliefs about program, but chances are, at the core for all three entities is the desire to help youth be successful now and in the future. Since you have this common ground, figuring out how to support your partners will give you a solid footing upon which to build your niche as an essential service.
Check out the C4K video "Parents As Allies and Supporting the Good Work of the School Day"