Dear Minister Lecce,
The Parents Reaching Out Grants offers critical funding to help support parents and caregivers in identifying barriers to parent engagement in their own community and to find local solutions to involve more parents in support of student achievement, human rights, equity and well-being. During the COVID-19 pandemic, this support has been more critical than ever. This is why it is so important that this funding is provided annually and increased to funding levels from the 2018-19 school year.
For the 2020-2021 school year, the Toronto District School Board was allocated $131,563 for projects that demonstrate a commitment to respecting the role of parents and caregivers in students’ educational experiences. This allocation is a 70% reduction since 2017-2018 where the Board received $483,838 for school council and regional grants.
This year, as a result of operational and safety guidelines and school closures, we supported parent engagement through a variety of virtual activities and initiatives that included a conversation series, language support for multi-lingual families and a School Council Grant to support the work of school councils in educating and addressing anti-oppression, anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism.
While the School Council Grant application was well received by school councils, there was insufficient funds to meet the needs over 190 submissions, even with additional supports from the Parent Involvement Advisory Committee (PIAC), who used their funds to supplement the PPF-PRO Grant.
These grants are invaluable to our school communities to ensure the continued engagement of our parents and caregivers, and our ability to support their needs and interests. A recent survey highlighted interest in initiatives focusing on mental health and well-being as well as school council training. We know that parent and caregiver support will continue, and most likely need to be increased, especially as students transition back to an in-person learning environment for the upcoming school year.
I hope that you will take into consideration this information, including the impact the pandemic has had on our parent and caregiver community, and what we will need to do to support them as we move forward.
As always, I am available to continue this conversation at your earliest opportunity.
Chair of the Board