Parent involvement is associated with child academic outcomes, positive behaviors, and social skills. This qualitative study explored school-based parent involvement barriers experienced by nine low-income mothers. In-depth interviews were used to collect data from mothers participating in a community-based program offered in a large public housing neighborhood. Findings included three main barriers: (a) cultural and language differences in their children’s school, (b) undertones of racism from teachers and parents, and (c) being the primary caregiver or sole provider for their children. Although all parents experience challenges to school involvement, low-income mothers face additional obstacles preventing them from engaging in their children’s schools. This perceived lack of school involvement can lead to feelings of helplessness, shame, and stigma.


School-Based Parent Involvement, Public Housing, Narratives

Author Bio(s)

Stephanie Lechuga-Peña, is an Assistant Professor in the School of Social Work and has over 15 years of experience in social work practice, working with low-income youth and families. Her research examines factors impacting academic achievement for Latinx low-income children and youth. She co-developed and is testing a dual-generation intervention, Your Family, Your Neighborhood, which is designed to support parents in their ongoing efforts to provide their children with an effective and supportive educational environment within a supportive and engaged community. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: stephanie.l.pena@asu.edu.

Associate Professor Daniel Brisson focuses his scholarship on poverty, low-income neighborhoods and affordable housing. He has ongoing community partnerships and is delivering his intervention, Your Family, Your Neighborhood, to families living in low-income urban neighborhoods. Brisson has written extensively on the role of neighborhood social cohesion as a mediator for the health and well-being of families living in low-income neighborhoods. Currently, he is focusing on community partnerships with affordable housing providers to understand the role of neighborhood social processes on individual health. Brisson teaches research methods, statistics and macro social work practice approaches to community development, with a focus on poverty alleviation. Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to: daniel.brisson@du.edu.

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