Blog categories
Dec 21, 2015 |
  No Comments

By Margo Waddell Preschool ReadingIn 1990, the Office of Indian Education Programs (OIEP), now the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE), developed a groundbreaking early childhood/parental involvement program in BIE schools called Families and Child Education (FACE). Now in its 25th year, the national partnership between BIE, Parents as Teachers National Center (PAT), and NCFL is still going strong. During this time period, FACE has been implemented in 57 schools in 12 states, and has served approximately 36,000 American Indians, including 17,000 adults and 19,000 children in approximately 14,500 families. FACE exists today in 43 programs in 10 states. The program was designed to provide culturally and linguistically responsive education, resources and support for American Indian/Native American families with children from birth to grade three. FACE is a comprehensive early childhood family literacy program that includes: home-visiting; preschool education; adult education; and an intensive parent engagement component. Outcomes over the years include: improved academic performance for students and parents, decreases in the need for special education services, increased parent self-efficacy, and increased employment rates. Preschool GardenThe numbers are one side of the story. The other side of the story is about the experience of families participating in FACE. One such story in stands out in particular as I look back over the past 25 years: I first met Jake when I made a FACE visit early in the school year to a geographically isolated Ojibwe school in Minnesota. Jake had just turned three years old when I met him on the carpet in the block area of the classroom reaching for a truck. He was unable to move forward to get the truck on his own. He was born with severe spina bifida. I reached down and rolled the truck close enough for him to successfully grasp it. His broad smile warmed my heart. I asked the staff how we could help this child have greater mobility within the class—knowing full well this was going to be a tough process. I encouraged the teachers to work with their local health services and the family to see what accommodations were available. 595A year later I returned to the school and found Jake had been given a new freedom to explore his environment. A “scoot cart” had been designed for him with swivel wheels that he could be strapped to and move independently throughout the room. He seemed to recognize me as I came over to the block area where he was playing. I said, “Hi Jake, what are you doing?” He grinned broadly and said, “driving.” What I learned from Jake as he progressed through the FACE program was that no matter what his physical challenges were, his determination and cognitive abilities were what his family and educators were most focused on. Indeed, this is the essence of what FACE tries to accomplish for students like Jake every day. He participated in all of the activities in the class, just from a different vantage point—and his peers also encouraged him to join the fun. FACE provides equal opportunities for all children through family, school, and community partnerships.  The success of FACE reminds us that there are ways to rise above the boundaries of poverty. Here’s to another 25 years! This post is the second of a two-part reflection on 25 years of the FACE program. Margo Waddell is NCFL’s director of Family and Child Education (FACE). Read NCFL President and Founder Sharon Darling's reflections on 25 years of working with the Bureau of Indian Education, Bill Mehojah, and Parents as Teachers here.


Leave A Comment

NCFL Partners

NCFL Image
NCFL Image
NCFL Image
NCFL Image
NCFL Image
NCFL Image


Toyota, one of the nation's most successful corporations, began a partnership with NCFL in 1991. In addition to a commitment of more than $50 million, Toyota has also contributed a wealth of in-kind support — including advertising, planning and management expertise — to form one of the most progressive corporate/nonprofit partnerships in the nation.

Three major programs have been developed through the Toyota partnership based on the family literacy model of parents and children learning together. These models have influenced federal and state legislation, leveraged local dollars to support family literacy and led to successful programs being replicated across the country.

Read more about Toyota's commitment to communities

William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust

NCFL received its very first donation in 1989 from the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust to promote and implement family literacy programming, first in Kentucky and North Carolina and later nationwide. The Kenan Family Literacy Model in part laid the groundwork for 30 years of subsequent family literacy and family learning programming developed by NCFL.

Kenan has continued to support NCFL’s place-based family literacy programs since our inception. Most recently, it has invested in our organization’s Sharon Darling Innovation Fund, which will launch emerging ideas and programmatic evolutions in the multigenerational learning space.

Learn more about the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust

Dollar General Literacy Foundation

The Dollar General Literacy Foundation began partnering with NCFL in 2006. A signature effort of this partnership is the National Literacy Directory, a resource that launched in 2010 and strives to guide potential students and volunteers to literacy services, community education programs, and testing centers in their communities.

The National Literacy Directory contains over 10,000 educational agencies located across the United States and has a dedicated toll-free number to help support those wanting to pursue educational opportunities in their communities.

Dollar General also provides support for development of NCFL’s innovative family learning resources centered on financial literacy and Parent and Child Together (PACT) Time®.

Learn more about the Dollar General Literacy Foundation

PNC Grow Up Great

PNC Grow Up Great believes deeply in the power of high-quality early childhood education and provides innovative opportunities that assist families, educators and community organizations to enhance children's learning and development.

PNC Grow Up Great has partnered with NCFL since 1994, most recently in Louisville, Kentucky, to support Say & Play with Words, our pre-Kindergarten vocabulary-building initiative.

NCFL's work is also featured on the PNC Grow Up Great Lesson Center website. The Lesson Center includes over 100 free, high-quality preschool lesson plans and research-based instructional techniques and strategies. All lesson plans contain Home/School Connections printouts, in English and Spanish, to help families extend and reinforce the learning at home.

Learn more about PNC Grow Up Great

U.S. Department of Education

Initiated through the U.S. Department of Education in 2018, the Statewide Family Engagement Centers (SFEC) program provides 12 grantees and 13 states with five-year, $5 million grants to promote and implement systemic evidenced-based family engagement strategies. NCFL was selected to lead SFECs in two states, Arizona and Nebraska, and is a primary partner for two other SFECs in Kentucky and Maryland/Pennsylvania. 

The SFECs work to support family engagement through state- and local-level agencies while providing both professional development to school districts and direct services to families related to children’s academic outcomes and overall well-being.

Learn more about the U.S. Department of Education

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

NCFL was named a recipient of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s "Voices for Economic Opportunity Grand Challenge," which seeks to elevate diverse voices in order to broaden the conversation about the issues inhibiting economic mobility and generate deeper awareness along with actionable understanding. NCFL will develop and launch a podcast series that will highlight the remarkable stories of low-income, diverse families across the U.S. who have improved their communities through Family Service Learning.

Foundation Website