Harvard Family Research Project

May 09, 1990 2 min read

These school-based programs provide support and education services to parents with children anywhere from birth through the early elementary years.

The survey obtained information about many aspects of the programs, including their administrative arrangements and services, staff and participant characteristics, funding sources, and their interagency linkages with other school and non-school programs.

Highlights of the survey are presented below. Complete results and profiles of the 77 programs will be included in the project’s forthcoming book, Raising Our Future: Families, Schools, and Communities Working Together.

Administration and Services

Two-thirds of the programs are administered exclusively by a school system; one-third are administered in collaboration with another community agency.

The most commonly offered services are parenting and child-development education (100 percent provide); joint activities for parents and children (87 percent); networking and opportunities to meet other parents (86 percent); information and referral to other community services (86 percent); parent resource library (72 percent); home visits (69 percent); and health and nutrition education (69 percent).

More than 50 percent of the programs offer a regular weekly early-childhood experience for children as well as education and support services for parents.

Two-thirds offer services at school and/or such non-school sites as homes, child-care centers, community agencies, and religious facilities; one-third offer them exclusively at schools.

Interagency Linkages With School and Non-School Agencies

Well more than two-thirds have developed informal or formal linkages with other school programs or other public or private community agencies.

The majority of the linkages are established to exchange information; facilitate informal or occasionally formal referral agreements; or to share staff, facilities, training, or equipment.


More than two-thirds report that the school district or state department of education has licensure, certification, or training requirements for program staff.

Thirty-eight percent have one or more volunteer staff members.


The median program budget is $75,000.

Half the programs receive 50 percent or more of their funding from the state and federal governments. Examples of state funding sources include prekindergarten and dropout-prevention programs; federal sources include Chapter 1, Chapter 2, the Carl Perkins Act, special-education programs, and the Bilingual Education Act.

Slightly more than a quarter of the programs receive 50 percent or more of their funding from the local school district or another local source.

More than a third do not report having any local funding.

The majority of programs report receiving in-kind support (space, equipment, materials, direct service to program participants, and consultation for staff development) from the school system and other community agencies.

Participant Characteristics

More than a third serve 50 percent or more families with incomes below $10,000.

More than a third serve 25 percent or more minority families.

Close to a third serve 50 percent or more single parents.

Advisory Boards

Three-quarters of the programs have their own advisory group or board, and, of these, 75 percent report that at least one participating parent serves.

Two-thirds of the programs with advisory groups or boards include representatives of the community or other agencies.

A version of this article appeared in the May 09, 1990 edition of Education Week as Harvard Family Research Project