What are State Programs Doing to Engage Pre-K Families?

Topic: Preschool, Research, State-funded programs

Policies directed at encouraging family engagement continue to be of interest for the field as policymakers, researchers and advocates look for ways to improve early childhood education programs and child outcomes. The State of Preschool 2009 Yearbook collected data on family engagement activities in state-funded prekindergarten programs. Programs were asked about required engagement activities, as well oversight and monitoring of these activities.

Nine programs (out of 51) have no family engagement requirement at the state level, while 18 programs (35 percent) allow for locally determined family engagement activities. There is significant variability among the 24 programs (in 22 states) that do specify a family engagement requirement at the state level. Some programs require a wide variety of activities, ranging from newsletters to family workshops and classes to participation in parent advisory committees; other programs require only one family engagement activity. Four programs follow federal Head Start Performance Standards for their family engagement requirements.

The majority of states do not have personnel responsible for overseeing family engagement policies for their state initiative. Among programs that mandate specific activities or allow for local discretion in family engagement, 26 programs indicated that there is a state-level official responsible for overseeing these policies. Responsibility for overseeing these policies generally falls to the state’s department of education or an early childhood division within the department.

At least four programs conduct a separate evaluation of family engagement policies, while 26 programs monitor family engagement within a larger evaluation of the program or through some other evaluative method. Twenty-one initiatives do not monitor family engagement policies; 14 of these programs have family engagement requirements but do not monitor the provision of these activities at the state level.

To see the family engagement requirements in your state, click on the image below. For complete information on state-funded prekindergarten programs, see the 2009 Yearbook Interactive Database.

– Megan Carolan, Policy Research Coordinator, NIEER
– Dale Epstein, Assistant Research Professor, NIEER

Yearbook Family Engagement Data