For our first post, as part of the National Association for Family, School, and Community Engagement’s (NAFSCE) website launch, I want to take this opportunity to introduce myself to our current and future members and stakeholders, and to let you know how honored I am to have the responsibility of working with my colleagues across the country to move the needle in this important work.
For 19 years, I was a not-for-profit executive for a best practice regional parenting and family engagement organization in New York, with the mission of helping parents, teachers, and community members raise children to become responsible, and capable adults. I strongly believe that a parent is a child’s first and primary teacher, no matter one’s socioeconomic status, their education level, or where they live.
This role starts at the birth of our child, and many suggest even before. Research is clear about the essential role that effective parenting can play in child development and early learning. And when our child is ready for Head Start or pre-school, it is the beginning of a series of important relationships with the professionals who join us in educating them.
The idea of capitalizing on the incredible individual and collective influence both the parent and teacher play in the development and academic success of a child seems so obvious. Working together, it would seem, would exponentially increase the odds of a child maximizing their potential. Research reinforces what seems so clear. However, systemically, as a country we are anything but intentional about maximizing this relationship.
Since 1995, as part of the Goals 2000: Educate America Act, dedicated federal funding was allocated to support building capacity for effective family-school partnerships linked to learning. Unfortunately, those funds were eliminated in 2011, and there has been no substitute for those needed capacity building resources. The birth of NAFSCE is long overdue. Finally, there will be an association for all family engagement professionals, to come together.
NAFSCE will focus on building capacity in the field, providing a platform to share high-impact best practices, and advocating for effective policies and resources. We will do so by focusing on collaboration and synergy, to build a rising tide for the prioritization of this work that will provide increased opportunities for best practice organizations to not just survive, but to thrive. It is time to build a movement to prioritize and be intentional about how we, as professionals, engage families. From early childhood and after-school programs, to higher education and pre-service programs, to educators and parent leaders, to community-based organizations supporting families… we invite all of you to join us in this effort. Together, we will work to prioritize the importance of FSCE in a way that is reflected by elevated policies, increased resources, and universally effective practices as key levers for child development, student achievement, and school improvement.
I look forward to working with each of you. I hope you will consider reaching out to me. We need your involvement in what I expect will be a tremendously rewarding experience, to the great benefit of our children.
Vito J. Borrello
National Assn. for Family, School, and Community Engagement