LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky is one of eleven states to receive a five-year, $5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to establish a Kentucky Statewide Family Engagement Center (KY SFEC). Led by the Prichard Committee, the center will carry out parent education and family engagement in education programs for Kentucky families and provide training and technical assistance to educational agencies, schools, and community-based organizations in effective family engagement policies, programs, resources, and activities.
“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to increase access and participation in evidence-based family engagement programs and opportunities across Kentucky,” said Brigitte Blom Ramsey, executive director of the Prichard Committee. “Nearly three decades of research show that family, school, and community engagement leads to improvement in student and school outcomes, and contributes to meeting the needs of all students, especially students in poverty and students historically underserved.”
To provide deeper services to traditionally underserved families, the Prichard Committee will partner with three organizations to establish Regional Family Engagement Centers in rural, urban, and suburban Kentucky communities. These partners include Partners in Education at Berea College, in eastern Kentucky, Children, Inc. in northern Kentucky, and the National Center for Families Learning, in the Louisville metro area. Regional centers will pilot evidence-based and innovative family engagement programs as well as training programs for schools and educational organizations within their region.
“The beauty of this program is that it recognizes families are an essential support, especially for young people from Appalachian Kentucky,” said Dreama Gentry, executive director of Partners for Education. “We know from our work over the last 20 years that engaging parents and children at the same time is the surest path to educational success, often for both generations.” Gentry applauded the Prichard Committee for leading the way on this initiative. “Brigitte Blom Ramsey and her team at Prichard are an ally rural Kentuckians can count on.”
The KY SFEC will provide parent leadership training for families statewide through the Prichard Committee’s 20-year-old Commonwealth Institute for Parent Leadership, including hosting an annual Kentucky Parent Leadership Summit. The center will also serve as a statewide resource hub for family engagement by working with a broad range of partner organizations to identify, develop and disseminate resources and for educators and families that support family engagement in student learning and in state and local decision-making.
“Family-school engagement is the secret ingredient that builds sustained parent investment in their children’s education,” said Tom Lottman, senior director of the Innovation Lab at Children, Inc. “We are pleased to join our partners in this effort to help Kentucky school systems lead the nation in family engagement.”
The new Kentucky Statewide Family Engagement Center will also work closely with the Kentucky Department of Education to decrease barriers to family engagement through strengthened policies and practices and ensure the Center’s efforts are integrated into support structures and processes at the statewide and local school level including training, professional development, teaching and learning, curriculum and community collaboration.