Even Start Family Literacy is a federally funded program designed to "help break the cycle of poverty and illiteracy by improving the educational opportunities of the Nation's low-income families by integrating early childhood education, adult education or adult basic education, and parenting education into a unified family literacy program." First enacted in 1988 as Part B of Chapter 1 of Title 1 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, Even Start Family Literacy was reauthorized and amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.
Since its inception, Even Start Family Literacy has grown dramatically. Nationwide, seventy-six projects and 2,460 families were served in fiscal year 1989; in fiscal year 2003, some 1,200 projects served more than 50,000 families. Even Start Family Literacy's growth is reflected not only in these numbers, but also in the maturation of the program's intent. A shift in emphasis occurred from Even Start Family Literacy to Even Start Family Literacy. The program now primarily focuses on literacy outcomes for both children and adults.
Even Start Family Literacy partnerships are governed by the William F. Goodling Even Start Family Literacy Statute (Statute). They abide by the fifteen elements listed in Section 1235 of the Statute and the definition of eligible participants noted in Section 1236. Program requirements are further described in the Guidance for William F. Goodling Even Start Family Literacy Programs (Guidance) and are addressed from a New York State perspective in this online guide.