Inclusive Practices and Supporting Special Family Populations

I heard a presenter this week that was talking about goal setting. He said to set a big goal and then little goals in order to reach that big goal. I think this is great advice as it pertains many things we do for parents and families especially when talking about race, diversity, inclusion and social justice. 

In reflection, I realized that this was exactly what we were doing at Stockton University. In talking with AHEPPP colleagues, many others are doing the same.  We all know how important it is to talk about race, diversity, and social justice. We also know how important it is to provide safe and welcoming spaces for our students and their families. Many of us don’t feel we are experts in these topic areas or necessarily have enough hours in the day to dive deeply into programming for these topics the way we wish.  Going back to the speaker I heard recently, I think what we can do is set and reach some of those smaller goals for ourselves and not try to achieve that huge goal overnight.   

In this post, Branka and I hope to share with you some ways that we set and achieved little goals at our institution as it pertains to inclusive and educational family programming.

Stockton University 

With the collaboration of the Associate Vice President for Student Transitions, Access and Retention and the Office of Parent & Family Partnerships, an open forum Zoom meeting titled “Real Talk: Supporting Students of Color, a Family Discussion” was held in February.  As a man of color, our AVP lead the conversation and allowed BIPOC families to talk about their journey, highlight support services for their students and answer questions. The session was very well received by family members who appreciated the space to talk and connect with others. The event only required a Zoom registration link and a small amount of social media publicity which we created in Canva.  This program was a pilot that we hope to offer to more affinity groups in the future.

During the summer and fall we also shared infographics with families on our social media accounts that provided talking points and resources so that families could continue the conversation at home about race.  We also shared resources in our Facebook group for students who are parents about how to have these conversations with younger children as well.

Hofstra University

In collaboration with the Office of Intercultural Engagement & Inclusion, our Parent Council is starting a Book Discussion Group. This spring, parents and family members have read and discussed White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo. The author, a sociologist, “examines the ‘white fragility’ that prevents white Americans from confronting racism” (New Yorker, 2018). The session invited participants from all backgrounds and viewpoints to a safe, judgment-free space where all voices are heard. The discussion was moderated by Aisha Wilson-Carter, Adjunct Associate Professor of Writing Studies and Composition.

Five years ago, we started the SAS Parent Support Network group that leads a workshop every semester. The mission of the Network is to support and educate families of students registered with Student Access Services on how to guide and mentor their students with disabilities on the college level. The Office of Parent and Family Programs collaborates with the Office of Student Access Services to provide speakers and the content for the workshops.

In collaboration with the First Generation Committee, our Office of Parent and Family Programs co-hosts a celebration for graduating First Gen seniors and their families each May. This year, this will probably be a virtual event. We also created a page for the families of First Generation students.

All our diversity programming must start with our understanding our parents, family members and their needs. With both remote and in-person events and different methods of delivery, we are trying to reach as many parents as possible.

In conclusion, although these efforts were smaller in nature, they have brought awareness and have helped to provide spaces for conversations to continue. We both feel that we have a lot more work to do and many more goals to set, but we hope this brings encouragement for you to start setting goals for your self as it pertains to race, diversity, inclusion and social justice.


Jennifer Radwanski is the Director of Parent and Family Partnerships at Stockton University. Branka Kristic is the Director of Parent and Family Programs at Hofstra University and a former AHEPPP Board of Directors President. 

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