In North Dakota, our communities are not foreign to the concept of community and family. North Dakota’s heritage and the values expressed by its people are rooted in togetherness. It’s how the pioneers led the development of our state’s public education. For many years, family engagement has been a challenging priority among the nation’s school districts. The ND Legislature and the Department of Public Instruction are putting a much sharper focus on family engagement as a strategy to improve classroom learning.

You may have heard it before but it’s worth repeating: “Families are the first and most influential teachers of their children.” Partnering with families increases your ability as a leader to influence school reform and improve student achievement.

Families are an invaluable resource to schools. New efforts are being developed across the state to ensure we are doing all we can to partner together for the betterment of our students.

Family Engagement Cabinet

The Department of Public Instruction created it's first-ever Family Engagement Cabinet in the Spring 2019. The Family Engagement Cabinet provides an outlet for family members to share experiences in education and advocate for changes they'd like to see be made. The Cabinet assists NDDPI in facilitating partnerships and collaboration with families and schools.

NDDPI-Gallup Family Engagement Study

How well does North Dakota engage families? In the spring of 2023, Gallup partnered with the NDDPI to answer that question by conducting a survey of nearly 3,000 public school parents statewide.

The goal of the research was to better understand parents' and guardians' experiences with education and their child's school, and to measure the current state of family engagement at schools across the state. 

The results are available in the NDDPI-Gallup Family Engagement Study.


Breaking down barriers

Families tend to increase their engagement with a school when they have trust and believe that their efforts will have a direct and positive impact on their children’s education and overall well-being.

Shifting from involvement to engagement

For many districts when the topic of family engagement is discussed the thought process goes to efforts that traditionally have been performed in schools including hosting a school website, a back to school family night or emailing updates. While these efforts are good and important they don’t directly meet the objective of engagement.

True engagement takes place when families and school staff work together continually to support and improve student learning.


North Dakota Family Engagement

"Families are the first and most influential teachers of their children."

NDDPI Values:

  1. Build Relationships
  2. Cultivate Opportunity
  3. Inspire Growth

NDDPI Family Engagement Core Team

  • Director, Indian/Multicultural Education
  • Administrative Staff Officer, Indian/Multicultural Education, Assessment
  • Assistant Director, Assessment
  • Assistant Director, Educational Improvement & Support
  • Education Program Administrator, Academic Support
  • Family & School Engagement Administrator, Early Learning, NDDHHS partner
  • Email contact for all Core Team members

ND Family Engagement Cabinet

Mission: To provide a safe space that allows members from all over the state to share their experience as a partner, guardian, caretaker, or educator in ND with the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Ms. Kirsten Baesler.

Vision: Our vision is that all ND families will be supported and engaged within their respective school districts; that family, community, and school partnerships are accessible, and strengthened for ALL North Dakotans.

The State Superintendent's Family Engagement Cabinet consists of 27 members from across the state, representing 22 school districts. The Cabinet shares advice, ideas, and opinions about how North Dakota families and schools can better work together to support the education of all children. 

Cabinet Member Commitments:

  • Attend quarterly face-to-face meetings in Bismarck and potentially participate in virtual meetings throughout the year.

  • Come prepared for each session and work collaboratively with each other, NDDPI staff, and outside partners.

  • Engage in open and respectful dialogue.

  • Actively serve a term of 18 months. Members in good standing may apply for a second term.

Family Engagement Cabinet Information

The current term is July 1, 2022, through December 31, 2023. 

Additional Family Engagement Cabinet information

Family Engagement Cabinet Member Interest:

If you are interested in serving as a Family Engagement Cabinet member, please contact the NDDPI Family Engagement Core Team and we will assist you.

ND State Key Accomplishments: We are here to support you!

  • Statewide Mindset Shift "families are important stakeholders"
  • Family Engagement Cabinet initiated in 2019
  • PK-12 Alliance - Empathy interviews conducted and Family Engagement Playbook created, offering virtual coffee chats
  • Dr. Steve Constantino's work "Family Engagement vs. Parent Involvement" implemented
  • Communication shared on upcoming trainings/events through our NDDPI Weekly Blast and Educator's Edge newsletters
  • Professional Development continues; Dr. Epstein work and training pilots - aligning goals with Family Engagement strategies/activities with REAs and partners
  • Family Engagement webpage and resources created
  • Scholastic Success ND Education and Gallup Family Engagement Survey mailed out to families - results to be shared with the public
  • 2022 and 2023 Family Engagement Grant Awards made possible by ESSER funds 

Family Engagement Family Resource Toolkit

Family Resource Toolkit Topics include:

  • Crisis Interventions and Local Family Resources
  • Educational Resources
  • Common ND Distance Learning Platform Tutorials



The purposes of family engagement in education programs are the following:

  • To provide financial support to organizations to provide technical assistance and training for districts in the implementation and enhancement of systemic and effective family engagement policies, programs, and activities that lead to improvements in student development and academic achievement
  • To assist districts, schools, educators, and community-based organizations in strengthening partnerships among parents, teachers, school leaders, administrators, and other school personnel in meeting the educational needs of children and fostering greater parental engagement
  • To support districts, schools, educators, and parents in developing and strengthening the relationship between parents and their children’s school in order to further the developmental progress of children
  • To assist the districts in the coordination and integration of Federal, State, and local services, programs, and initiatives to engage families in education

Use of Funds

Based on the needs determined by the district, family engagement funds may be used to assist parents in participating effectively in their student’s education. High impact uses of funds include the following:

 (1) to assist parents in participating effectively in their student’s education and to help their student meet challenging State academic standards, such as by assisting parents—

  • to engage in activities that will improve student academic achievement, including understanding how parents can support learning in the classroom with activities at home and in after school and extracurricular programs (i.e., distance learning, summer school program)
  • to communicate effectively with students, teachers, school leaders, counselors, administrators, and other school personnel (i.e., learning/communication platforms, video conferencing, flyers)
  • to become active participants in the development, implementation, and review of school-parent compacts, family engagement in education policies, and school planning and improvement
  • to participate in the design and provision of assistance to students who are not making academic progress (i.e., students with disabilities, Els, regression due to COVID-19)
  • to participate in State and local decision-making (i.e., PTA training, advisory groups, etc.)
  • to offer parent training opportunities (i.e., parent groups, coaching, mentors, parent education)
  • to offer learning and using technology applied in student’s education (i.e., platforms, internet access/broadband, devices, and tech support)

(2) to develop and implement family-school partnerships, statewide family engagement in education policy and systemic initiatives that will provide for a continuum of services to remove barriers for family engagement in education and support school reform efforts; and

(3) to develop and implement parent and family engagement policies to meet federal, state, and local regulations.

Additional family resources and tools to help families through the transition to distance learning and ongoing educational opportunities can be found on the NDDPI website.

Please Note: LEAs must reserve Title I, Part A funds for the following required activities:

  • Services for students experiencing homelessness
  • Services for children in local institutions for neglected students and delinquent students
  • Parent and family engagement (required if the LEA receives $500,000 or more)
  • Equitable services for eligible private school students (amounts depend on proportionate share)