Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE) Advisory Council
According to Minnesota Statue 121.882 (1994), the school board of any district establishing or expanding an early childhood family education program “shall appoint an advisory council for the area in which the program is provided. A majority of the council shall be parents participating in the program. The council shall assist the board in developing, planning, and monitoring the early childhood family education program. The council shall report to the school board and the community education advisory council.”
Advisory councils are designed to give advice and counsel as their name implies. They differ from boards in that they have no legal authority for administering the business matters of the program and thus are not responsible for budgets, hiring, firing, or policy setting.
The composition of the advisory council can vary greatly, but the majority of members must always be parents actively participating in the program.
There are at least seven major areas in which advisory councils can be very helpful to the operation of Early Childhood Family Education programs
- Contributing recommendations for program policies, goals, objectives and ideas.
- Developing a source of volunteers and training volunteers. Volunteers can assist the program in actual operations by:
- Facilitating parent involvement in activities.
- Serving as resource librarians, helping in selection and inventory of resource library materials.
- Keyboarding or other clerical duties, designing graphics for program flyers and newsletters.
- Organizing monthly guest speaker nights, preparing an annotated bibliography of books on parenting and writing
- parenting columns for local newspapers.
- Promoting the program, outreach, and community relations.
- Assisting in program evaluation.
- Serving as an advocate for Early Childhood Family Education programs in the community and Legislature.
- Expanding resource development.
- Fund Raising
Benefits to parent advisory council members include expanded knowledge and skills, as well as enhanced parental self-esteem and confidence.
Parent advisory councils strengthen parent commitment to Early Childhood Family Education. Over time, advisory council members develop deeper confidence and trust in the program. Their willingness to take on volunteer commitments and to enhance program resources increases. When staff and council members work together as a team, diversity of leadership, communication skills, knowledge of community resources and program operations, and growth are significantly enriched.