The U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) have established the Early Learning Interagency Policy Board (IPB) to develop policy recommendations and improve program coordination and quality across federally funded early learning and development programs serving children from birth through age eight. Previously, ED and HHS have released policy statements on Expulsion and Suspension Policies in Early Childhood Settings and Inclusion of Children with Disabilities in Early Childhood Programs based on public comments received. This and other resources can be found by visiting this page.

Having received public input, the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (Departments) are proposing to release a policy statement on the implementation of effective family engagement practices from the early years to the early grades. This statement refers to the implementation of these practices with ALL families. It is the purpose of this blog to request comments on the proposed statement to inform the final document. Please comment on the draft statement (found here) through December 21st, 2015 by emailing ECD@acf.hhs.gov.

It is the Department’s position that strong family engagement is central in promoting children’s healthy development and wellness, including social-emotional and behavioral development; preparing children for school; seamlessly transitioning them to kindergarten; and supporting academic achievement in elementary school and beyond. When families and the institutions where children learn partner in meaningful ways, children have more positive attitudes toward school, stay in school longer, have better attendance, and experience more school success. To further this position, the Departments will release a policy statement on the implementation of effective family engagement practices in early childhood and learning programs.

The policy statement:

  • Reviews the research base that supports effective family engagement in children’s learning, development and wellness;
  • Identifies core principles of effective family engagement practices from HHS’ and ED’s family engagement frameworks;
  • Provides recommendations to States, Local Education Agencies (LEAs), schools and community-based early childhood programs for implementing effective family engagement practices; and
  • Highlights resources for States, LEAs, schools, and early childhood programs to build capacity to effectively partner with families.

Though this policy statement focuses on family engagement from the early years to the early grades, it is the position of the Departments that recognition of families as equal partners in improving children’s development, learning and wellness across all settings, and over the entire course of children’s developmental and educational experiences, is an essential component of ensuring positive outcomes for all children.

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