Systemic Supports for Family and Community Collaboration: Equitably Funding Education
For family and community collaboration (FCC) with school districts to be effective and authentic, engagement activities require teacher time, dedicated staff positions, specialized training, and ongoing communication — all elements that rely on substantial funding.1 Yet throughout the United States, many school districts struggle to fund these core services. School districts that serve communities of color and low-income areas are especially underfunded,2 making it even more challenging for them to build strong partnerships with their families and communities and sustain collaboration in the long term.
Without adequate baseline funding, teaching, and learning cannot occur — much less FCC. State and federal governments must address resource inequities that limit districts’ capacity for FCC. Until this reform is achieved, school district leaders should continue to build partnerships with community organizations and philanthropic organizations to fund essential components of FCC.
For states and school districts to improve funding infrastructure for FCC, it is critical to tackle much broader issues in funding equity. Our recommendations for state and district policymakers include:
- Revise funding formulas to increase resources for high-needs districts. Correct decades of funding inequities by increasing resources for students from low-income households and multilingual students, districts in impoverished areas, and social support programs.
- Leverage current federal funding streams to support family and community engagement, such as Title I and the Statewide Family Engagement Centers program. States can use these existing funds to pay for their FCC initiatives.
- Braid state and federal funds to cover necessary components of FCC, like teacher time and communication technology. By combining sustainable funding from state and federal sources, school districts can better integrate families and communities into decision-making and invest in evidence-based FCC strategies.
- Engage foundations and philanthropic organizations to fill in gaps in public funding. Though private funds cannot guarantee systemic, sustainable, or equitable school resourcing, they can offer financial support, technical assistance, and connections to broader funding networks.
This policy brief was developed as part of the FHI 360 Connected & Engaged: Supporting Family and Community Partnerships with School Districts initiative. This brief is one of a series that highlights policies, strategies, and programs that can be implemented at the local, state, or federal levels to promote successful FCC in all school districts — especially those serving students from marginalized groups and communities.
1 Mapp KL, Bergman E. Embracing a New Normal: Toward a More Liberatory Approach to Family Engagement [Internet]. New York, NY: Carnegie Corporation of New York; 2021 Jun. Available from: https://media.carnegie.org/filer_public/f6/04/f604e672-1d4b-4dc3-903d-3b619a00cd01/fe_report_fin.pdf
2 Baker BD, Di Carlo M, Weber M. The Adequacy and Fairness of State School Finance Systems 2023 | Fifth Edition [Internet]. Albert Shanker Institute; 2022 Dec [cited 2023 Jan 10]. Available from: https://www.schoolfinancedata.org/the-adequacy-and-fairness-of-state-school-finance-systems-2023/
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