The Parent Trust Fund

What is the Parent Trust Fund?

The Parent Trust Fund is the first family civics initiative focused on training parents in leadership skills to improve the health, safety, and learning outcomes of children. It was established by the Connecticut General Assembly in 2001. The state Department of Education administers the Parent Trust Fund through the State Education and Resource Center (SERC).

How is the Parent Trust Fund financed?

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation seeded the Trust with $250,000. The William Casper Graustein Memorial Fund followed as the first foundation to contribute matching dollars to the state budget appropriation. Unlike any other state appropriation, the investment in the Parent Trust Fund is matched at the state and local levels. The $500,000 in state contribution raises an additional $625,000 in local cash and in-kind matching funds. Communities leverage local matching funds up to 50 percent of the total program cost.

Why is the Parent Trust Fund important?

Research shows that parent involvement has a significant, positive impact on child outcomes. The Trust prepares parents to work with school, community, and state leaders to improve health, safety, and learning outcomes for all children. More than 1,100 parents and their children are served annually. Each of these training graduates leaves better-prepared to advocate for their children, volunteer in their community, serve on nonprofit boards, lead parent-teacher associations, or run for public office. By mentoring and empowering parents, the Trust’s programs create ripple effects on family, local, and state levels.

What communities benefit from the investment made in the Parent Trust Fund?

Parent involvement programs supported by the Parent Trust Fund include: the nationally recognized Parent Leadership Training Institute (PLTI), created by the Commission on Children (now the Commission on Women, Children and Seniors); the University of Connecticut-sponsored People Empowering People (PEP); the Center for School Change’s Parents Supporting Educational Excellence (PSEE); and ASPIRA’s APEX, among others. In 2013-2014, 23 organizations were funded, providing 53 diverse programs in English, Spanish, and Albanian.

The Parent Trust Fund supports parent leadership training in Bloomfield, Bridgeport, Bristol, Coventry, Danbury, Enfield, Greenwich, Hamden, Hartford, Killingly, Meriden, Middletown, Milford, Naugatuck, New Britain, New Haven, New London, Norwalk, Norwich, Plymouth, Stamford, Stratford, Torrington, Waterbury, West Hartford, and Windham.

What is parent leadership?

Parents are better prepared to lead on behalf of children when they gain the knowledge and skills needed to help shape the future for their families, schools, and communities.

A sample of parent leadership training supported with Parent Trust funds:

People Empowering People (PEP): A four- to six-month training focused on the parent as the leader in the home, linking families to additional resources, and building the foundation for further leadership opportunities. Curriculum is available in English, Albanian and Spanish.

The Parent Leadership Training Institute (PLTI ): A 20- week training that prepares parents to lead in their school and community using an assets-based community development and social policy change framework.


ASPIRA–APEX: A 10-week training conducted primarily in Spanish, focusing on understanding community resources, supporting parental involvement in schools, and building self-confidence.

How does parent leadership make a difference?

Parent leadership strengthens families and communities by creating positive change in the systems, policies, and programs designed to serve and support children.

What does the data show?

Parents SEE training provides parents with new skills, supporting both immediate and long-term civic and social outcomes. Among graduates:

  • 84% know how federal and state education policies affect their schools and children;
  • 77% do more to reach out to parents from communities and backgrounds different than their own; and
  • more than one-third serve on school, district, regional or state committees.

An evaluation of Parent Leadership Training Institute (PLTI), revealed the following outcomes for graduates:

  • 99% are better able to access information to navigate their community;
  • 81% gained knowledge and skills in being an agent of change;
  • 73% engaged in advocacy work, 52% in community organizing;
  • 15,000+ hours of community service were completed by graduates in 2014; and
  • alumni have served the community in a variety of ways, including:
    • the establishment of an accessible, affordable swim program for children with special needs;
    • launching an advocacy and mentorship organization serving at-risk families;
    • securing funding for neighborhood improvements to local parks and pedestrian safety; and
    • serving on school, district, regional or state committees and boards.

For more information about the Parent Trust, call the Commission on Women, Children and Seniors at (860) 240-0017.

PLTI is a service mark of the Commission on Women, Children and Seniors.