Many districts struggle to capture and keep parent contact information up-to-date. With summer fast approaching, now’s the time to consider how you can capture this information when back to school comes around. We interviewed 25 school districts who have a higher than 1:1 student to parent email address ratio for their district in order to learn which tools and processes they use to gather and maintain this critical information.
Here's what we learned:
Implement Online Registration
- Online registration is where it’s at. 23 out of the 25 schools have an online registration form that parents are required to use at the beginning of each school year. Most SIS systems offer the option to utilize their online registration tool, so consider activating yours for back to school this year. If you don’t want to use your SIS’s online registration form, other online registration options that can be used in tandem with your SIS are:
- Not every parent can register online easily—that’s ok. If you’d like to provide another option for parents who do not have easy access to a computer or smartphone, you can provide a computer kiosk on site, or have parents fill out paper forms to be entered into the system by a school staff member.
- Make annual registration required. While some districts make annual registration optional, it’s recommended that this is a required action so that parents must verify and update their contact information each year.
- Make email a required field. To ensure complete contact information, make both phone number and email address a required field.
Create a Culture of Communication
- Parent Contact Info Champion. If you haven’t already, create a “Parent Contact Info Champion” at each of your schools. This should be a school staff member who is passionate about good communication! The parent contact info champion will oversee the maintenance of parent forms and track down those who have not provided complete information.
- Communicate the why. What’s in it for parents? To get parents to provide complete contact information, it’s important to tell them why you will need this information. Provide a culture of communication by speaking to the importance of each communication channel, and by outlining the ways that you will communicate with parents regarding their child. For example:
- Text: In case of emergency, like a natural disaster or school cancellation, we will text and robo call you.
- Phone: If your child is sick, needs to go home, or is absent from school, we will call you.
- Email: For report cards, schedules, and afterschool activities, we will email you.
- Leverage your teachers. Teachers are an excellent resource for parent contact information. Let teachers know what you need the contact details for, and then ask them to collect this essential information during back-to-school night, and provide an excel file or paper forms to the school office. Most teachers will be happy to provide this important information!
- Promote, promote, promote! Encourage parents to register or update their contact information by communicating with them in various places—post on social media, send home a paper flyer, text parents, display on your big screen, put up a banner, and place the request on each school’s homepage.
- Need more assistance? Contact us and we’d be happy to help brainstorm with you based on your own school’s specific needs.