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Parent Volunteers Receive Financial Incentives to Serve as School Liaisons

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A North Carolina district was looking for ways to get more parents involved. So, they decided to pay select parents to volunteer.

Guilford County Schools now gives financial incentives to parent liaisons to act as go-betweens between their schools and the district, assigning them to relay information and set up programs for their campuses.

It's not much—up to $150 a month. But as a result, parents have launched their own initiatives, such as English as a Second Language classes for parents, Saturday lessons and child care, said Lindsay Whitley, the director of the district's Guilford Parent Academy. The district has 72,300 students in 127 schools.

Guilford County Schools received money from a federal Race to the Top grant to fund the first liaisons—24 parents in middle schools only in 2013-14. The following year, the district expanded the program with federal Title 1 funds for low-income children to pay for 65 liaisons in elementary, middle and high schools.

"It's really a reward system that we use. We really consider them volunteers," Whitley told Education Week.

The parents are selected by their principals. Then, they attend monthly meetings to discuss issues, such as the importance of attendance or literacy, and receive handouts or PowerPoint presentations to take back to their schools.

"They become our method of being able to communicate very important information to students in a variety of ways," Whitley said.

The liaisons are a mix of stay-at-home parents, as well as working parents, who have the flexibility to perform their duties when needed. The money is meant to help them cover costs, such as gas.

"What we feel is, we are reaping huge benefits from a small investment," Whitley said.

What do you think about paying parents to serve as volunteers? What other incentives are available to get parents involved? Let us know in the comment section or send me an email

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Contact Sarah Tully at [email protected].

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