Pre-K Now — a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that advocates for high-quality, voluntary pre-kindergarten for all three and four year olds — has announced that Deborah Roderick Stark will lead “Engaged Families, Effective Pre-K,” which it described as “a new initiative to research best practices for engaging families in pre-k programs and to advance state policies that support those practices.”
Stark, 41, a San Lorenzo native with extensive experience in early-childhood education, is the wife of Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont, with whom she has three children; she’s also a member of the First 5 Alameda County Commission.
Funded by the Picower Foundation, the new program aims to “highlight the fundamental role family involvement plays during the early learning years and the need for states to actively promote it,” according to a news release.
“Without a doubt, parent engagement in pre-k improves children’s successes in school and life,” Stark said in the release. “The pre-k years are not just the best time for teaching early learning skills; this is also the best time for educators to actively engage family members, reinforcing the notion that they are their child’s first and most important teachers.”
Engaged Families, Effective Pre-K will launch an 18-month listening tour involving families of 3- and 4-year-old children, in order to learn more about needs, opportunities and challenges faced during the early learning years. It’ll also convene a national panel of experts to review research on family engagement, identify promising practices and develop action steps that states can take to support meaningful family engagement in state-funded pre-k.
“When pre-k is done right, families benefit too, because from day one, they learn about the enduring role they’ll play in their child’s education,” Stark said.