Parents for Healthy Schools

Parent reading during story time

Parents have a powerful role in supporting their children’s health and learning. Engaged parents help guide their children successfully through school, advocate for their children, and can help shape a healthy school environment.1 CDC developed a set of resources, called Parents for Healthy Schools, to assist schools, school groups, and school wellness committees with encouraging parent involvement in school health. Parents for Healthy Schools uses evidence-based strategies for parent engagement.

Parent Engagement in Schools

Parent engagement in schools is parents and school staff working together to support and improve the learning, development, and health of children and adolescents.2, 3 Parent engagement in schools is an important, shared responsibility in which schools and other community agencies and organizations are committed to getting parents involved in meaningful ways, and parents are committed to actively supporting their children’s and adolescent’s’ learning and development.

When parents are engaged in their children’s school activities, their children get better grades, choose healthier behaviors, and have better social skills.4 In addition, school health activities are more successful when parents are involved.5

Parents for Healthy Schools resources gives school staff, parents, and school groups, like parent teacher associations (PTA) and parent teacher organizations (PTO), ideas and strategies for working together to create a healthier school.

Parents for Healthy Schools Framework
Parent Engagement Strategies
Parent Engagement Facilitator Guide

Drawing from research and best practices from schools across the country, CDC collaborated with key partners to create the strategies found in Parents for Healthy Schools to give schools a framework for parent engagement. There are three aspects of the parent engagement framework:

  1. Connecting with parents.
  2. Engaging parents in school health activities.
  3. Sustaining parent engagement in school health.

CDC’s Parent Engagement: Strategies for Involving Parents in School Health pdf icon[PDF – 2 MB]defines and describes engagement between parents and school staff and identifies specific strategies for all three aspects of parent engagement in schools: connect, engage, and sustain.

CDC’s Promoting Parent Engagement in School Health: A Facilitator’s Guide for Staff Development pdf icon[PDF – 3 MB] helps schools and school groups develop a plan for engaging parents in school health activities. Both of these resources provide the evidence-based framework for Parents for Healthy Schools.

Get more Parents for Healthy Schools resources here.

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Parent Engagement: Strategies for Involving Parents in School Health. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2012.
  2. Epstein JL. School, Family, and Community Partnerships: Preparing Educators and Improving Schools Second Edition. Boulder, CO: Westview Press; 2011.
  3. National Family, School, and Community Engagement Working Group: Recommendations for Federal Policy. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Family Research Project; 2009.
  4. Resnick MD, Bearman PS, Blum RW, Bauman KE, Harris KM, Jones J, et al. Protecting adolescents from harm. Findings from the National Longitudinal Study on Adolescent Health. Journal of the American Medical Association 1997;278(10):823–832.
  5. Ornelas IJ, Perreira KM, Ayala GX. Parental influences on adolescent physical activity: a longitudinal study. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 2007;4(3):1–10.