By: Kim Kushner, Assistant Director of New Student and Family Programs

Research demonstrates that parent and family involvement in children’s learning positively correlates to personal and academic achievement. As children move into adolescence and young adulthood, this involvement continues to become a positive predictor for school success, as well as positive social and emotional outcomes. In a higher education context, parent and family involvement in the undergraduate college years positively supports student development elements (e.g., competence, autonomy, and resiliency), thereby benefitting the student during their undergraduate years and beyond (Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education [CAS], 2019). When higher education institutions proactively partner with parents and family members, seeing them as valuable stakeholders in the undergraduate experience, these constituents can be our best allies for student success, retention, persistence, and graduation (CAS, 2019).

UMKC Parent and Family Programs encourages collaboration and connection between the university and the parents and family members of current students, especially current undergraduate students. The term “parent and family” encompasses a variety of student support systems. UMKC Parent and Family Programs defines “parent and family” to include (but not be limited to): biological parents, stepparents, extended family members, adoptive parents, foster parents, legal guardians, and/or anyone who serves as a primary or caring supporter of a UMKC student.

This article further outlines the history, purpose, and goals of UMKC Parent and Family Programs. It concludes by summarizing how we can best partner with parents and families in appropriate and effective ways to promote student learning and student success.

UMKC Parent and Family Programs History, Purpose, and Goals

UMKC Parent and Family Programs began in Fall 2019. UMKC faculty and staff had always worked with parents and family members in various capacities, supporting mutually beneficial and appropriate programs to promote student learning and development. Throughout the mid-2000s into the early 2010s, a UMKC Parent Council existed, but eventually dissolved. Although decentralized programming existed for parents and family members, nothing existed as a central point of connection, communication, and advocacy. Thus, UMKC Parent and Family Programs began as an opportunity to fill this gap.

This office strives to inform and connect parents and family members of UMKC students to our university community with the goal of supporting their student’s personal and academic journey toward graduation. The program values parents and family members as critical partners in student success and retention, collaborating to empower appropriate involvement in and advocacy for their student’s UMKC experience. Program goals include:

  • Informing and educating parents and family members about UMKC services, events, and policies.
  • Enhancing open communication in both directions between parents and family members, and our UMKC community.
  • Facilitating opportunities for parents and family members to voice concerns and questions to UMKC administration.
  • Encouraging and welcoming parents and family members to visit campus through engagement in large-scale traditions and emerging outreach efforts.
  • Educating parents and family members to dialogue with their students about ways to promote academic and personal wellness, empowering students to identify problems, develop plans, and work toward solutions independently.
  • Helping to generate affinity for the university so parents and family members can become informed UMKC advocates.

Currently, UMKC Parent and Family Programs offers diverse touchpoints to help parents and families support their student and their family. You can learn more about these resources on the UMKC Parent and Family Programs website:

Powerful Partnerships: Considerations for Our UMKC Community

Parents and family members are important stakeholders at UMKC. UMKC Parent and Family Programs exists to serve as a central point of support for parents and families; however, other campus partners can include themselves in this larger supportive partnership. Three easily identifiable action items include:

  • Recognize that there is not a “one size fits all” UMKC family demographic: As you assess how your work meets the needs of students with various experiences and identities, also consider how your work meets the needs of their parents and family members. Be mindful of communications that refer to mom, dad, and parent(s), as student support systems are demographically diverse. Also consider that some students have spouses, partners, children, and other support systems that should be welcomed into our community.
  • Familiarize yourself with FERPA, and use it as an opportunity to educate: FERPA refers to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, which is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student records (U.S. Department of Education, 2021). UMKC takes student records protection very seriously, and has various forms parents and family members can fill out in collaboration with their students to release student records. If a parent or family member calls you with a question about your student, ensure FERPA regulations are met; however, refrain from ending the conversation exclusively with “Sorry, I cannot share because of FERPA.” Reframe the conversation by sharing with them Office of Registrar resources, as well as encouraging them to have a conversation with their student about next steps. Managing expectations is helpful so that parents and families don’t come away from a conversation with a barrier; instead, they can come away with resources that they can address further with their students.
  • Browse resources around parent and family involvement: UMKC Parent and Family Programs is a helpful UMKC resource, as well as many of our student affairs and enrollment management offices (e.g., Office of the Registrar, UMKC Central, UMKC Bookstores, Counseling Services, Student Health and Wellness, Student Disability Services). In addition, additional professional associations, such as AHEPPP: Family Engagement in Higher Education, are dedicated to parent and family outreach and success.


Every summer, our Office of Admissions and UMKC Parent and Family Programs collaborate on the Support Your Roo New Student Orientation session. We share with parents and family members that our faculty and staff see parents and families as partners in shaping their students’ success. We truly believe that the diversity of our parent and family member demographics is a strength of UMKC. As we strive to ensure every student is successful at UMKC, we must consider both our internal and external support systems for these students, which include their parents and family members. As Piper (2019) shares, we are not just accepting a student to our university, but the student’s entire support structure. Thus, we must prioritize the advancement of student success by including parents and families as valuable partners in conversations, communications, traditions, and events.


Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education [CAS] (2019). CAS professional standards for higher education (10th Ed.). Author.

Piper, J. (2019, May 5). Involved parents get their own college guides. The Chronicle of Higher Education.

U.S. Department of Education (2021, August 25). Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).