The U.S. Department of Education (USED) has published notice in the Federal Register that it is receiving applications for Statewide Family Engagement Centers (SFECs). Funding for SFECs is authorized under Title IV, Part E of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). This is the first time this funding will be awarded under ESSA.
The posting in the Federal Register indicates that SFECs are charged with providing technical assistance and training to State education agencies and local education agencies to:
- Carry out parent education and family engagement in education programs, and;
- Provide comprehensive training and technical assistance to SEAs, LEAs, schools identified by SEAs and LEAs, organizations that support family-school partnerships, and other such programs.
It is important to note that while the Federal Register posting uses the conjunction "and" between the two requirements listed above, the statutory reference, ESSA Section 4205(a) actually uses the conjunction "or". This may seem like a small thing, however, when it appears in a law, the difference between "and" and "or" results in either having to meet both requirements or only one of the two. This could cause a hiccup in the application process for organizations that only planned to address one of the requirements in their application for SFEC funding.
The USED anticipates making approximately ten awards this cycle, but may make additional awards from the pool of applicants in future years. The estimated funding available at this time is $9.7 million. Awards are estimated to be between $500,000 and $1,000,000, but will not exceed $1,000,000 annually.
While SFECs are authorized in ESSA Title IV, Part E, there is a requirement in Title I regarding SFECs. If a SFEC is located in a state, all LEAs and schools in that state that receive Title I funds must notify parents of the existence of the SFEC. Title I, section 1116(g) says, “In a State operating a program under part E of title IV, each local educational agency or school that receives assistance under this part shall inform parents and organizations of the existence of the program.”
TransACT’s ESSA Parent Notices Collection includes a letter that can be sent to parents to meet the requirement to inform parents of the existence of a SFEC. If you have any questions or would like to know more about the parent notices available from TransACT, please contact us at 425.977.2100, Option 3 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.