Today, the U.S. Department of Education launched the National Parents and Families Engagement Council (the Council) to facilitate strong and effective relationships between schools and parents, families and caregivers. Families’ voices play a critical role in how the nation’s children are recovering from the pandemic.
“Parents are a child’s first teachers, and there’s no one better equipped to work with schools and educators to identify what students need to recover,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “The National Parents and Families Engagement Council will serve as an important link between families and caregivers, education advocates and their school communities. The Council will help foster a collaborative environment where we can work together to serve the best interest of students and ensure they have the academic and mental health support they need to recover from the pandemic and thrive in the future.”
The Council consists of parent, family, or caregiver representatives from national organizations that will work with the Department to identify constructive ways to help families engage at the local level. Organization representatives will reflect the diversity of the education system, including, but not limited to, families of students in public schools, charters, private schools, and homeschool. The Council will be a channel for parents and families to constructively participate in their children’s education by helping them understand the rights they have, create a feedback loop with schools to shape how American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds are deployed to meet students’ needs, and identify summer learning and enrichment opportunities for children in their communities.
“Parents provide critical perspective, and they should always have a seat at the table whenever decisions are made that impact their children. And this is more important than ever in the effort to help students recover from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Anna King, president of National Parent Teacher Association (PTA). “National PTA applauds the Department of Education for launching the National Parents and Families Engagement Council and providing a channel for parents’ voices to be heard and considered. This is essential to help make sure the needs of students are met coming out of the pandemic and ensure every child has everything they need to make their potential a reality.”
“NAFSCE congratulates the Department of Education for establishing a National Parents and Families Engagement Council,” said Vito Borrello, executive director of the National Association for Family, School, and Community Engagement (NAFSCE). “This Council provides the opportunity to bring diverse parent voices together to inform the Department’s policies and programs, while also serving as a dissemination vehicle for engaging families across the country in equitable education policy.”
At launch, Council members include:
- The Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA)
- Fathers Incorporated
- Generations United
- Girls Inc.
- League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC)
- Mocha Moms
- National Association for Family, School, and Community Engagement (NAFSCE)
- National Action Network
- National Military Family Association (NMFA)
- National Parent Teacher Association (PTA)
- National Parents Union (NPU)
- The National Center for Parent Leadership, Advocacy, and Community Empowerment (PLACE)
- United Parent Leaders Action Network (UPLAN)
In the coming weeks, the Council will meet to discuss how their children are recovering; the different ways schools are providing academic, mental health and social and emotional support; and how they can best constructively engage with schools. In the coming months, the Department and the Council will hold local listening sessions with parents, families, principals, educators, and school community members to better understand the needs of students as they start the 2022-23 school year.