Promising Practices Program

Administering Organization

Fairfax County Public Schools

Program Name

Immigrant Family Reunification Program (IFRP)

Program Objectives and Unique Needs Addressed

The Fairfax County Public Schools Immigrant Family Reunification Program (IFRP) is an effort to identify immigrant students going through family reunification and to invite their parents to participate in parenting education classes that provide strategies for, as early as possible, successful reunification.

Many parents have come to the United States thinking they would be separated from their children only for a short period of time. Their children stay with relatives or other caregivers until the parents are financially stable to bring them. The separation causes pain in both sides; and legal and economic barriers can often keep them apart for much longer than expected. IFRP intends to help heal wounds in both parents and children, promote positive family reunions, and identify resources in the schools and community that can help them.

Program Description

IFRP offers:

  1. Professional Development – a two-hour workshop "Immigrant Family Reunification:  Promoting Student Academic Engagement" (for school administrators or teachers)
  2. Train the Trainers for the Families Reunite Class – a four-hour training for those who wish to facilitate the Families Reunite Class or organize one in their jurisdiction
  3. Families Reunite Classes (available in Spanish, West African version, and an Arab Fathers Dialogue)
  4. Reconnecting Families Guides for families, parents, and teens (three booklets)

Families Reunite includes a 42 page soft cover guide for parents that is used in a 9-hour parenting class. The last session brings parents and children together to work in activities that have goals to improve communication, empathy and understanding among them. This last session sometimes becomes the most important one since parents and their children get to interact with each other outside of stressful circumstances.

Some of the most important topics examined are:

  • Why did you move to the U.S.?
  • Handling grief
  • The acculturation process
  • Parent involvement in school

Parents learn that the reunification process is not easy, and that they are not alone (among those who immigrated to the U.S. there are common challenges that impact children and families). They practice strategies to improve their relationship and communication with their children. They learn to see the child's perspective and to use strategies that promote positive family reunions. Last, but not least, they learn about local and national resources that can support them.

Resource Materials Used in Program

Reconnecting Families Book – Spanish

Reconnecting Families Book – English

Reconnecting Families Workbook – Teenager – Spanish

Reconnecting Families Workbook – Teenager – English

Reconnecting Families Workbook – Parent – Spanish

Reconnecting Families Workbook – Parent – English 

Parents & Child Together Activities: Families Reunite- English and Spanish

Families Reunite: Immigrant Family Reunification Parent Guide

Immigrant Family Reunification Program

Groups Served by Program

The Families Reunite curriculum is for Spanish speaking and Arabic speaking parents and children.  There is also a West African version of the curriculum.  The Reconnecting Families Guides are in English and Spanish.

Program Funding

Parent classes are paid for with school funds, or with Office of Family and School Partnership's funds.  Often the expenses are shared in that the school provides child care and refreshments. Grant funding has also been used to pay for instructors.  Professional development trainings are offered for a small fee. Cost of Families Reunite parent guides are $5 per book. The first ten Reconnecting Families books are FREE; after that the cost is $1 per guide. Other individual program costs may include facilitator fee, child care, and refreshments.

Program Staffing and Required Staff Training

We recommend one trained facilitator, an instructional assistant and one site professional (i.e., school counselor or social worker for support during the sessions). A parent or community liaison is essential to do the outreach and register parents.

Program Evaluation

We apply a pre- and post-evaluation in order to know how much the participants have learned during the training and their perception of the training in general. Here it is an example of what the parents have expressed:


"Because of this workshop my relationship with my children is improving incredibly.  Things that seemed to be impossible to achieve, now we see them possible." ~Parent, post-evaluation

"The best thing about this class was that everyone shared their point of view." ~Parent, post-evaluation

"I think the time lived apart from children has increased the lack of trust between us which makes it difficult for us to have a conversation." ~Parent, pre-evaluation

"The best thing about this class was having met people who are going through the same." ~Parent, post-evaluation

"What I have learned from this class is to give my children more love and affection." ~Parent, post-evaluation

Program Outcomes

Professional Development:

  • 30 presentations 2014- June, 2016
  • 94% participants who completed evaluation say that they increased their knowledge of immigrant family reunification issues and how they impact children.
  • 98% of attendees increased their knowledge of resources and strategies that promote communication between home and school.
Train the Trainer:
  • 12 trainings from 2014- current
  • 86% participants who completed evaluation say as a result of the training they increased their knowledge of immigrant family reunification issues and how they impact children.
  • 87% say as a result of the training they have increased their knowledge of resources and strategies that promote communication between home and school

Additional Comments

Program Contact

Robin Hamby
Family Partnerships Specialist
Family and School Partnerships
Dunn Loring Center for Parent Services

Ligia Díaz
Program Assistant
Family and School Partnershipsz
Dunn Loring Center for Parent Services


Program Dates

This program is still operating as of 2017.