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Even Start Family Literacy Programs

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"A key element in family literacy is that it brings together parents and their children in an educational environment to facilitate and nurture the learning relationship between them.

  • Family literacy works to improve the educational performance of children by fostering a learning partnership between schools, teachers, and parents.
  • As parents increase their academic skills, they are better able to support their children's education while also increasing their likelihood or gainful employments.
  • As the parent's level of comfort with the school increases, the parent becomes a stronger advocate for the school within the community."

National Governors Association Center for Best Practices

The Even Start Family Literacy Program is a federally funded family literacy program of the U.S. Department of Education administered through the Iowa Department of Education and operated by local grantees. The program was developed to help break the cycle of poverty and illiteracy by improving the education opportunities of families most in need in terms of poverty and illiteracy. These programs provide literacy services to both parents and children supporting their relationship to ensure child success. Even Start family literacy services are those services provided to participants on a voluntary basis that are of sufficient intensity in terms of hours, and of sufficient duration, to make sustainable changes in a family, and that integrate the four components.

Four Components of Even Start:

  1. Adult Education: Parent literacy training that leads to economic self-sufficiency
  2. Early Childhood Education: An age-appropriate education to prepare children for success in school and life experiences
  3. Parenting Support: Training and support for parents regarding how to be the primary teacher for their children and how to be full partners in the education of their home
  4. Parent and Child Together: Interactive literacy activities between parents and their children

Federal Regulations require Even Start Programs address fifteen required activities or program components:

  1. Identification and recruitment of families most in need
  2. Screening and preparation of parents
  3. Flexible programs and support services
  4. High-quality, intensive instrumental programs
  5. High staff qualifications
  6. Special staff training
  7. Integrated, home-based instructional programs
  8. Year-around (instructional and enrichment)
  9. Coordination with other relevant programs
  10. Instructional programs based on scientifically based reading research
  11. Regular attendance and sufficient length of participation
  12. Reading readiness activities based on scientifically based reading research
  13. Continuity of family literacy services to ensure that individuals retain and improve their educational outcomes (Transition)
  14. Services to families most in need
  15. Independent local project evaluation for program improvement

Even Start (U.S. Department of Education Link)

Legal Requirement and Reports

The Even Start Literacy Program is authorized by Title I, Part B, Subpart 3 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), as amended by the Literacy Involves Families Together (LIFT) Act to provide funds through the Iowa Department of Education for the establishment of local Even Start projects. The Title I, Part B, Subpart 3 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) was first authorized in 1988 with and appropriation of $14.8 million. The program became State administered in 1992 when the appropriation exceeded $50 million. Most recently, the program was reauthorized by the Literacy Involves Families Together (Lift Act of 2000 and the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.

Even Start is a Title I program with the following governance.

Funding Sources

Funding for Even Start Start Comes from the U.S. Department of Education under Title One.

Funding for Even Start in Iowa has gradually been reduced over the past several years:

Even Start

2006–2007 445,400 (est.)
2005–2006 1,014,181
2004–2005 1,113,439
2003–2004 1,120,106
2002–2003 1,296,254
2001–2002 1,317,125


Guiding Practices

2003 Even Start Guidance


National Center for Family Literacy (NCFL)  The NCFL is to create educational and economic opportunity for the most at-risk children and parents. NCFL's services include professional development for practitioners who work in children's education, adult education, English as a Second Language, and related literacy fields; model program development through our many ground-breaking initiatives; policy and advocacy support to sustain and expand literacy services for families; and the Family Literacy Alliance, a membership program. NCFL relies on the generous partnerships of many individuals, corporations and foundations to accomplish our mission.

Printed from the Iowa Department of Education website on June 16, 2021 at 12:01pm.