The community influence in the everyday lives of families : race, resources, and parental involvement in elementary school
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In the United States today, differences in how parents are investing time and money in their children’s education are one force perpetuating social inequality. Intensive involvement practices require resources not only within families, but also within the web of overlapping social contexts that influence child development: family, school, and community. Some forms of investment, like parental involvement in education, may be particularly responsive to improved community and school conditions, although current research largely focuses on the family contexts that predict involvement. Integrating nationally representative longitudinal data from multiple sources, this study investigates potential community-level mechanisms to improve family-school partnerships for diverse groups of families. It pays special attention to Latinx families, who face many barriers to enacting dominant parental involvement scripts at play in U.S. schools. Broadly, the results indicate that community resources in the form of civic infrastructure may promote parental involvement behaviors in both the school and the community. Findings demonstrating an outsized association between civic infrastructure and Latinx families also suggest that the community sphere holds promise for reducing racial/ethnic inequalities.