[Note: The comment period has expired and comments have been closed.]
The United States Department of Education (Department) recognizes that family engagement in school is an important component of student success. As schools improve their efforts to engage families, we know that some schools, districts and states may need additional support and technical assistance. Through the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018, Congress has authorized funding for the Statewide Family Engagement Centers Program. Title IV, Part E, Sections 4501 – 4506 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act, is intended to provide financial support to organizations to provide technical assistance and training to State educational agencies and local educational agencies in the implementation and enhancement of systemic and effective family engagement policies, programs, and activities that lead to improvements in student development and academic achievement. The Secretary is authorized to award grants to statewide organizations (or consortia of such organizations) to establish statewide family engagement centers that (1) carry out parent education, and family engagement in education; or (2) provide comprehensive training and technical assistance to State educational agencies and local educational agencies, schools, organizations that support family-school partnerships, and other organizations that carry out such programs.
Because the Department is very interested in your input, we are posting the legislation as part of this blog post. We encourage all interested parties to submit opinions, ideas, suggestions, and comments pertaining to the Statewide Family Engagement Centers program in the comments section below. This document will be posted for public comments until 5:00 PM EDT on Friday May 11, 2018, at which time the response section will be closed and we will begin considering input received as we develop the requirements, priorities, selection criteria, and definitions. Though the Department will not respond to comments, the Department will read and consider all comments in finalizing the Statewide Family Engagement Centers program and competition design. In early summer, we will publish a notice inviting applications in the Federal Register.
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The fine print
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Again, thank you for your interest in this opportunity to support family engagement in student learning. We look forward to hearing from you.
TITLE IV, PART E—FAMILY ENGAGEMENT IN EDUCATION PROGRAMS
SEC. 4501. (20 U.S.C. 7241) PURPOSES.
The purposes of this part are the following:
(1) To provide financial support to organizations to provide technical assistance and training to State educational agencies and local educational agencies in the implementation and enhancement of systemic and effective family engagement policies, programs, and activities that lead to improvements in student development and academic achievement.
(2) To assist State educational agencies, local educational agencies, community-based organizations, schools, and educators in strengthening partnerships among parents, teachers, school leaders, administrators, and other school personnel in meeting the educational needs of children and fostering greater parental engagement.
(3) To support State educational agencies, local educational agencies, schools, educators, and parents in developing and strengthening the relationship between parents and their children’s school in order to further the developmental progress of children.
(4) To coordinate activities funded under this part with parent involvement initiatives funded under section 1116 and other provisions of this Act.
(5) To assist the Secretary, State educational agencies, and local educational agencies in the coordination and integration of Federal, State, and local services and programs to engage families in education.
SEC. 4502. (20 U.S.C. 7242) GRANTS AUTHORIZED.
(a) STATEWIDE FAMILY ENGAGEMENT CENTERS.—From the amount appropriated under section 4506 and not reserved under subsection (d), the Secretary is authorized to award grants for each fiscal year to statewide organizations (or consortia of such organizations), to establish statewide family engagement centers that—
(1) carry out parent education, and family engagement in education, programs; or
(2) provide comprehensive training and technical assistance to State educational agencies, local educational agencies, schools identified by State educational agencies and local educational agencies, organizations that support family-school partnerships, and other organizations that carry out such programs.
(b) MINIMUM AWARD.—In awarding grants under this section, the Secretary shall, to the extent practicable, ensure that a grant is awarded for a statewide family engagement center in an amount not less than $500,000.
(c) MATCHING FUNDS FOR GRANT RENEWAL.—Each organization or consortium receiving assistance under this part shall demonstrate that, for each fiscal year after the first fiscal year for which the organization or consortium is receiving such assistance, a portion of the services provided by the organization or consortium is supported through non-Federal contributions, which may be in cash or in-kind.
(d) TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE.—The Secretary shall reserve not more than 2 percent of the funds appropriated under section 4506 to carry out this part to provide technical assistance, by competitive grant or contract, for the establishment, development, and coordination of statewide family engagement centers.
SEC. 4503. (20 U.S.C. 7243) APPLICATIONS.
(a) SUBMISSIONS.—Each statewide organization, or a consortium of such organizations, that desires a grant under this part shall submit an application to the Secretary at such time and in such manner as the Secretary may require, which shall include the information described in subsection (b).
(b) CONTENTS.—Each application submitted under subsection (a) shall include, at a minimum, the following:
(1) A description of the applicant’s approach to family engagement in education.
(2) A description of how the State educational agency and any partner organization will support the statewide family engagement center that will be operated by the applicant including a description of the State educational agency and any partner organization’s commitment of such support.
(3) A description of the applicant’s plan for building a statewide infrastructure for family engagement in education, that includes—
(A) management and governance;
(B) statewide leadership; or
(C) systemic services for family engagement in education.
(4) A description of the applicant’s demonstrated experience in providing training, information, and support to State educational agencies, local educational agencies, schools, educators, parents, and organizations on family engagement in education policies and practices that are effective for parents (including low-income parents) and families, parents of English learners, minorities, students with disabilities, homeless children and youth, children and youth in foster care, and migrant students, including evaluation results, reporting, or other data exhibiting such demonstrated experience.
(5) A description of the steps the applicant will take to target services to low-income students and parents.
(6) An assurance that the applicant will—
(A) establish a special advisory committee, the membership of which includes—
(i) parents, who shall constitute a majority of the members of the special advisory committee;
(ii) representatives of education professionals with expertise in improving services for disadvantaged children;
(iii) representatives of local elementary schools and secondary schools, including students;
(iv) representatives of the business community; and
(v) representatives of State educational agencies and local educational agencies;
(B) use not less than 65 percent of the funds received under this part in each fiscal year to serve local educational agencies, schools, and community-based organizations that serve high concentrations of disadvantaged students, including students who are English learners, minorities, students with disabilities, homeless children and youth, children and youth in foster care, and migrant students;
(C) operate a statewide family engagement center of sufficient size, scope, and quality to ensure that the center is adequate to serve the State educational agency, local educational agencies, and community-based organizations;
(D) ensure that the statewide family engagement center will retain staff with the requisite training and experience to serve parents in the State;
(E) serve urban, suburban, and rural local educational agencies and schools;
(F) work with—
(i) other statewide family engagement centers assisted under this part; and
(ii) parent training and information centers and community parent resource centers assisted under sections 671 and 672 of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (20 U.S.C. 1471; 1472);
(G) use not less than 30 percent of the funds received under this part for each fiscal year to establish or expand technical assistance for evidence-based parent education programs;
(H) provide assistance to State educational agencies, local educational agencies, and community-based organizations that support family members in supporting student academic achievement;
(I) work with State educational agencies, local educational agencies, schools, educators, and parents to determine parental needs and the best means for delivery of services to address such needs;
(J) conduct sufficient outreach to assist parents, including parents who the applicant may have a difficult time engaging with a school or local educational agency; and
(K) conduct outreach to low-income students and parents, including low-income students and parents who are not proficient in English.
(7) An assurance that the applicant will conduct training programs in the community to improve adult literacy, including financial literacy.
(c) PRIORITY.—In awarding grants for activities described in this part, the Secretary shall give priority to statewide family engagement centers that will use funds under section 4504 for evidence- based activities, which, for the purposes of this part is defined as activities meeting the requirements of section 8101(21)(A)(i).
SEC. 4504. (20 U.S.C. 7244) USES OF FUNDS.
(a) IN GENERAL.—Each statewide organization or consortium receiving a grant under this part shall use the grant funds, based on the needs determined under section 4503(b)(6)(I), to provide training and technical assistance to State educational agencies, local educational agencies, and organizations that support family-school partnerships, and activities, services, and training for local educational agencies, school leaders, educators, and parents—
(1) to assist parents in participating effectively in their children’s education and to help their children meet challenging State academic standards, such as by assisting parents—
(A) to engage in activities that will improve student academic achievement, including understanding how parents can support learning in the classroom with activities at home and in after school and extracurricular programs;
(B) to communicate effectively with their children, teachers, school leaders, counselors, administrators, and other school personnel;
(C) to become active participants in the development, implementation, and review of school-parent compacts, family engagement in education policies, and school planning and improvement;
(D) to participate in the design and provision of assistance to students who are not making academic progress;
(E) to participate in State and local decisionmaking;
(F) to train other parents; and
(G) in learning and using technology applied in their children’s education;
(2) to develop and implement, in partnership with the State educational agency, statewide family engagement in education policy and systemic initiatives that will provide for a continuum of services to remove barriers for family engagement in education and support school reform efforts; and
(3) to develop and implement parental involvement policies under this Act.
(b) RULE OF CONSTRUCTION.—Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit a statewide family engagement center from—
(1) having its employees or agents meet with a parent at a site that is not on school grounds; or
(2) working with another agency that serves children.
(c) PARENTAL RIGHTS.—Notwithstanding any other provision of this section—
(1) no person (including a parent who educates a child at home, a public school parent, or a private school parent) shall be required to participate in any program of parent education or developmental screening under this section; and
(2) no program or center assisted under this section shall take any action that infringes in any manner on the right of parents to direct the education of their children.
SEC. 4505. (20 U.S.C. 7245) FAMILY ENGAGEMENT IN INDIAN SCHOOLS.
The Secretary of the Interior, in consultation with the Secretary of Education, shall establish, or enter into contracts and cooperative agreements with, local tribes, tribal organizations, or Indian nonprofit parent organizations to establish and operate family engagement centers.
SEC. 4506. (20 U.S.C. 7246) AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS.
There are authorized to be appropriated to carry out this part $10,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2017 through 2020.