The state of Maryland prioritizes family engagement. The Maryland State Department of Education supports and is a key member of the Maryland Family Engagement Coalition. This Coalition advocates in a unified voice for family engagement policies and practices in the state of Maryland and has developed a number of resources and supports for a network of families, practitioners, researchers, and policy makers.
Since 2008, Maryland has been making family engagement a priority. The Maryland State Department of Education partners with a number of child development experts, policymakers, early care and education providers , and community advocates to promote and support family engagement efforts throughout their state. In 2012, key stakeholders came together to form the Maryland Family Engagement Coalition. This Coalition developed the Early Childhood Family Engagement Framework for the state, which was approved by the Maryland Early Childhood Advisory Council and State Board of Education. The group also secured additional funding to develop a tool kit for the Family Engagement Framework. They also have a number of flagship initiatives.
The Summit brings parents, providers, teachers, program coordinators, and other stakeholders together to learn new early learning initiatives, share best practices, and build community partnerships. The 2018 Summit offered creative approaches to identifying and meeting parents’ needs, as well as innovative strategies for engaging families and children and supporting their mental health and social emotional learning.
The Parent Leadership Learning Party
This capacity building opportunity provides parents and families with important leadership and advocacy skills to promote civic engagement in the familiar and comfortable Learning Party format. The Parent Leadership Learning Party is designed to support parents/family members as they take an active role in their child’s education and in schools, early learning programs, and local communities. Parent Leadership Learning Parties support growth and development in four areas:
- Trust and Conflict
- Idea Implementation
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Maryland’s Network of Family Support Centers, coordinated by Maryland Family Network, offer high-quality care and education for children from birth through age 3 in 25 two-generation programs across Maryland, including nine Early Head Start programs. Funding is provided by the Maryland State Department of Education, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, private foundations, corporations, and individuals.
Family Support Centers:
- Promote the optimal development of young children through the provision of parent/child activities and a wide range of child development services;
- Assist parents to develop more effective parenting skills and fulfill their aims related to school, employment and family life;
- Provide supportive networks among parents in local communities; and
- Connect parents and their children to public and private agencies and informal community resources that can help them.
Maryland Family Network (MFN) is the state’s coordinator of Strengthening Families Maryland, an approach that helps children and families thrive, and reduces the likelihood of child maltreatment. Parent Cafés are one way to strengthen families by engaging parents in guided, meaningful conversations about what matters most to families with young children. MFN provides Parent Café Facilitator training for representatives from organizations interested in offering Parent Cafés.
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The Maryland Family Engagement Coalition is critical to the development and implementation of the state’s family engagement efforts.
- Advocates in a unified voice for family engagement policies and practices in the state of Maryland to all levels of state government (executive, legislative and agency);
- Accesses, disseminates and communicates the latest research and best practices on family engagement;
- Advises the State Early Childhood Advisory Council regarding family engagement as it relates to policy and practice; and
- Develops and maintains a statewide family engagement network of families, practitioners, researchers, and policy makers.
The Coalition is comprised of 32 members with representatives from the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE), early childhood organizations and other community advocates. MSDE provides dedicated staff, office space, supplies, database management, and communication.
The mission of the Maryland Family Engagement Coalition is to support early care and education providers’ efforts toward increasing family engagement practices that improve outcomes for children, parents, and families.
The vision of the Maryland Family Engagement Coalition is to create stronger partnerships, foster communication, and develop best practices that will serve as a national model for connecting early care and education providers, parents, families, the community, state agencies, and beyond.
In 2018, the state’s new family engagement community hub website, Maryland Families Engage, was launched along with their “Engage, Connect, and Learn” campaign. The website was designed to help build a community of support for those who care for and work with young children. Their database of resources contains links to child development, family engagement initiatives, research, and more.
In addition, a number of family engagement promotional materials were posted to promote the use of the website. There’s also some guidance on how to promote the site through social media.