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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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In his State of the Union address President Barack Obama made a commitment to "make quality childcare more available, and more affordable, for every middle-class and low-income family with young children in America." A key element of high-quality childcare is ensuring that families are engaged as partners in their children's learning and development. Research clearly shows that family engagement supports young children's motivation to learn, social-emotional development, and preparation for school.


Public policy plays a vital role in providing the incentives and standards for family engagement in early education. To learn more about the state role in promoting family engagement we invite you to explore the policy profiles below.


A Strong Start for Family Engagement in Massachusetts  

Massachusetts has been a long-time leader in high-quality family engagement, and with its Race to the Top--Early Challenge award in 2011, the state has accelerated and enhanced its efforts. Massachusetts has leveraged the federal dollars to scale-up and enhance its many existing high-quality family engagement initiatives. The source of Massachusetts' success, in part, has been its emphasis on bringing together a variety of organizations that support young children's learning-including schools, early childhood programs, museums, libraries, and even a television station and the city's transportation system. These partnerships underscore that children learn anywhere, anytime and that exciting learning opportunities can be shaped by families, schools and communities.


Racing to the Top: Maryland's Promising Practices in Family Engagement 

Through its Race to the Top--Early Learning Challenge grant, Maryland is embedding a new family engagement definition statewide as a foundation of policy and infrastructure. The state seeks to transform parent involvement into "authentic parent engagement" -- to move away from providing services and assuming that families would take advantage of them toward partnering with families, being sensitive to their cultural needs, and responding to their opinions.


We acknowledge the commitment of those enlightened public leaders who support middle-class and low-income families through quality childcare and by providing opportunities for families to engage meaningfully in children's development. We will continue to share with you exemplary policies and practices to encourage more of our leaders to make such programs broadly available.


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