Wellness Centers are an essential component of any learning environment. They are a critical resource for the entire community for they serve as a link between the school and community. Wellness Centers provide family, staff and community members the opportunity to learn about and engage in a wide range of subjects ranging from mental health, parenting, academic development and expectations, and community resources. An effective community center will serve as a parent classroom and resource hub where the community learns, grows, and connects. Community Wellness Centers follow Dr. J.L. Eptein's Model of Overlapping Spheres of Influence where families, schools, and community resources overlap in support of students, and Dr. Karen Mapp's family engagement dual framework which focuses on developing dual capacity for family-school partnerships.
The purpose of the center is to provide family and community members the opportunity to grow and learn alongside students in order to continue to support the understanding of the importance of education and future opportunities. Knowledge and skills acquired equip families to be successful in their roles as life-long teachers and advocates. Different levels of engagement are guided by Johns Hopkins University's Joyce Epstein who directs the Center of School, Family, and Community Partnerships and the National Network of Partnership Schools. Dr. Epstein's six-part framework forms the basis of California's Family Engagement Framework:
1. Help with parenting: Schools assist families with parenting skills and provide family support.
2. Communications: Schools communicate with families about programs, curricula and student progress, and create two-way communication channels between school and home.
3. Volunteering: Schools actively recruit parents as volunteers in a wide range of activities.
4. Learning at home: Schools help parents in their child's learning at home, including doing homework, helping their children set goals, and other activities related to the school curriculum.
5. Decision-making: Schools include families as participants in school decisions, governance, and advocacy activities through school councils or improvement teams, committees, and parent organizations.
6. Collaboration: School help coordinate their own resources and services for families, students,and the school with community organizations, businesses, and cultural organizations.