School districts in Wisconsin, that operate four-year-old kindergarten programs (4K), have the opportunity to access state funds to provide parent/family outreach for a total of 87.5 hours per year, WI State Statutes 121.02(1)(f). 4K outreach activities are intended to develop and promote partnerships between families and schools and to support families in their role as the primary educators of their children. They are valued core partners in the educational process. Families have both the right and the responsibility to share in decisions about their child's education and development. Activities can focus on a variety of topics that are supportive to families. They do not need to be solely focused on academic and/or social emotional development. They may also focus on health and safety, connections to community resources and activities that strengthen relationships with school district personnel/initiatives.
Outreach hours are above and beyond those that are considered part of the overall school family engagement activities.
Funding Source and Hour Requirements
The legislative intent of the 1991 revision of the 4-year-old kindergarten statute was to provide a fiscal incentive for school districts to incorporate a parental outreach component within their four-year-old kindergarten program. Such outreach activities must comprise at least 20% (87.5 hours) of the 4-year-old kindergarten hours. Two options were created for districts that wanted to incorporate parent outreach:
- an enrolled pupil could be counted as 0.5 if the program annually provides 349.5 hours of instruction and 87.5 additional hours of parent outreach activities.
- an enrolled pupil could be counted as 0.6 if the program annually provides 437 hours of instruction and 87.5 additional hours of parent outreach activities
Considerations for Planning Outreach
- What is the purpose of the outreach efforts? Identifying the purpose and outcomes you hope to achieve with the outreach should be defined before an activity is decided. The purpose/desired outcome should guide the planning of the activity. Equity should be a guiding factor in identifying all outcomes.
- How will the activity promote and allow for circular communication with families and community members? Outreach activities should not be viewed as a “one-way” communication. Circular communication allows for shared learning and can guide the development of ongoing outreach activities throughout the year.
- Are the planned activities culturally and linguistically responsive? Are they accessible and equitable to all families? If not, how might you plan activities that would be more inclusive to families and community members?
- Who are or may be your community partners to support the outreach activities? Activities can be planned in coordination/collaboration with community resources.