Parent Engagement Sessions Empower Local Parents

Deanna Roberson moved to Dubuque eight years ago to pursue a safer life for her and her kids. She believes in doing everything she can to ensure her sons Marcus, 16, and Kryi, 6, can succeed in life.

“As long as my kids are smiling, I’m smiling,” she says with Kyri smiling next to her. “My journey is based on my kids. I wouldn’t trade my kids for anything in the world.”

Dee Dee was part of more than 23 families who attended parent engagement sessions this spring. The sessions were part of an effort from the Dubuque Campaign for Grade-Level Reading in partnership with the Multicultural Family Center to offer parents in the Washington Neighborhood not only the tools and resources they need to help educate their children but also the skills to teach their neighbors.

“I joined to see what help I can get as far as bettering myself as a parent,” explains Deanna.

“Studies have shown that parent engagement is crucial to a child’s well-being,” says Julee Albers, director of youth impact at the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque.  “When parents are engaged, students perform better in school. They earn better grades, improve test scores, increase attendance, gain more motivation and self-esteem, and have fewer behavioral issues.”

Julee adds that when parents aren’t engaged, reading proficiency, an important predictor of high school graduation and career success, can also suffer. Currently, about 28 percent of Dubuque students are not reading proficiently by the end of the third grade.

“This has significant and long-term consequences not only for each of those children but for the Dubuque community, and for our nation as a whole,” explains Julee. “If left unchecked, this problem will undermine efforts to end intergenerational poverty, close the opportunity gap and reduce high school dropout rates.”

It’s an impact that Deanna see’s first hand. Both of her sons are doing well in school and have perfect attendance. She hopes to use her own experiences and her new skills to teach other parents like her how important their role is in their children achieving success.

“I shared a lot of information and it got across to a lot of women,” says Deanna. “It does my heart an abundance of joy because I’ve shared information with somebody that can utilize something.”

To learn more about the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, visit


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