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The Harvard Family Research Project separated from the Harvard Graduate School of Education to become the Global Family Research Project as of January 1, 2017. It is no longer affiliated with Harvard University.

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About the Project
As part of our ongoing work to build family, school, and community engagement policy and practice, Harvard Family Research Project (HFRP) collaborated with Southwest Education Development Laboratory (SEDL) to serve as the National Coordination Center for the Parental Information and Resource Centers (PIRC) program. The national PIRC program provided federal funds to 62 organizations working to promote successful parental involvement policies and programs throughout the United States and its territories. HFRP provided technical assistance and support to PIRCs, with a focus on evaluation approaches, strategic planning and leadership, and policy development and implementation.

PIRCs: Family Engagement Leaders
More than ever before, federal, state, and school policies recognize that parents are important partners in their children’s education. PIRCs play a critical and evolving role in making family engagement a reality. Through their work supporting families and educators, PIRCs are building a nationwide understanding of the importance of and strategies for meaningful family engagement.

PIRCs are statewide leaders who leverage and align resources through partnerships with key agencies and organizations. Further expanding their history of providing direct services, PIRCs are also called upon to help improve chronically underperforming Title I schools by building their capacity to engage families in order to enhance student learning and achievement.  As reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) unfolds and the U.S. Department of Education develops its family engagement strategy, PIRCs will play a pivotal role in informing and implementing a new and improved vision for family, school, and community engagement.

Our Role and Its Impact
With our collaborators at SEDL and the U.S. Department of Education, we have helped PIRCs become incubators of innovation for family involvement who not only ensure quality in their own services but also build the field through sharing lessons learned with others.

Our technical assistance efforts began by shaping a new evaluation approach aimed at strengthening collaborative relationships between program directors and external evaluators, increasing the robustness of program data, and creating a plan for using evaluation findings for continuous learning and improvement. Next, we helped PIRCs understand their grant requirements, communicate about their work, and assess their progress by synthesizing U.S. Department of Education and ESEA-legislated expectations into a quality framework for their efforts. Currently, we convene stakeholders and summarize trends in the field to inform the U.S. Department of Education about the role of PIRCs in supporting and sustaining a comprehensive federal approach to family engagement.

The PIRC Team at HFRP

  • Heather Weiss is a Senior Advisor to the National PIRC Coordination Center
  • M. Elena Lopez is a Senior Consultant for the National PIRC Coordination Center
  • Heidi Rosenberg is a Senior Research Analyst for the National PIRC Coordination Center

© 2016 Presidents and Fellows of Harvard College
Published by Harvard Family Research Project