The Prichard Committee brought together an all-star cast through the Kentucky Collaborative for Families and Schools to create a way to celebrate and highlight Kentucky schools that prioritize family and community partnership. Partners included Learning Grove, National Center for Families Learning, Partners for Rural Impact, Kentucky Department of Education, and the Governor’s Office of Early Childhood along with multiple families and educators across the state. This group created the Family Friendly Schools certification process.
Additionally, the group wanted a more structured process for schools to measure how they were doing in welcoming and connecting with families and then make plans to improve engagement efforts in teams with families, educators and community partners. The group accomplished both through the Family Friendly School Certificate which launched in March 2022 for K-12 schools, and in September 2022 for early education centers.
“This is helping us transition from “one-off” family engagement to a system that is integrated and planned,” Kentucky 2022 Family Friendly School Principal.
The opportunity for all students to succeed requires families, teachers, principals, afterschool programs, and others working together to support each child in distinct ways. Each team member much contribute their own expertise to set children on a pathway to success.
Schools and early care centers who apply for Family Friendly certification gain a deeper understanding about the importance of family-school partnerships, examine core beliefs about family-school partnerships, learn and apply concrete strategies for increasing family engagement in their school and analyze the findings from their self-assessment. To receive certification, schools must demonstrate they have reached a level 3 in- relationship building, communication, shared responsibility, advocacy and community partnerships. They must also develop family engagement action teams with action plans and provide evidence for next steps to deepen equitable family engagement in their school and community.
On Monday Nov. 14th, the KY Collaborative, Governor Andy Beshear and Lt. Governor Jacqueline Coleman recognized the first 32 schools and one early care center to achieve this extraordinary certification. Certified schools are encouraged to expand on their work and submit applications annually. Early care centers and schools who have not participated in 2022 are encouraged to apply in the 2023 application window which opens May 1st, 2023.
Multiple principals expressed gratitude for a process that helps them see what they are already doing right and where they can improve. “This is supporting a transition of doing “for families” to a transition of doing “with families”. We’re now having valuable and rich conversations about our family engagement practices,” Tyler Reed, Frankfort High School Principal.