Utah Family Partnership Network History
Utah Family Partnership Network (UFPN) began in 1991 as a partnership between the Utah State Board of Education and the Utah PTA. It was the first of its kind in the nation. The goal of the partnership was to increase parent involvement in schools and to give parents the tools they needed to help their children in school. This effort was supported with legislative funds.
UFPN received a significant US Department of Education Parent Information Resource Center (PIRC) grant to reach parents where they live. One of the strategies used by UFPN was to develop in partnership with school districts, parent resource centers in low income neighborhoods connected to Title I schools. This made a huge difference in these neighborhoods. UFPN used this opportunity to initiate the Parents as Teachers (PAT) program, a nationally recognized home visitation program that reached out to low income parents with children ages birth to five. The PAT educator met with each parent once a month to teach them age appropriate activities to support cognitive and emotional growth. 65 educators were brought on serving over 600 parents.
In 2003 UFPN brought the award winning “Read to Your Child 20 Minutes a Day” program to Utah. Governor Olene Walker made it the flagship program of her term as governor. Governor Walker took this message out to businesses, schools and homes and experienced a high level of success with public awareness and implementation.
In 2007 the US Department of Education contracted with WestED to identify the best PIRC Programs. There were 50 PIRC programs located in almost every state. UFPN PIRC was identified among the top five as having significant promising practices. Besides being recognized by WestED, UFPN was known for using research based practices by bringing in such programs as PAT. After expanding from 65 educators in 1998 to over 200 by 2006, UFPN introduced School Family Community practices developed at Johns Hopkins University. This structure for parent involvement in schools was taken to over 100 schools in Utah.
In 2008 UFPN joined forces with Steve James Productions, Something Good Inc. and partners to produce annual Holiday Concerts for select low income communities and schools. UFPN saw this as an opportunity to get timely bilingual information out to parents in those areas.
2012 to Present
With the recession and change of national leadership the PIRC grant was discontinued. With a new state grant that stressed parent training, UFPN was able to continue the five Family Centers in Northern Utah. UFPN was able to reach hundreds of parents in low income neighborhoods with quality parent training and access to many resources housed at the five Family Centers. UFPN started focusing efforts on supporting events and programs that reached out to parents and families and that mobilized communities.
In 2016, UFPN became a host of the 14th annual “Prevention Day at the Ballpark” with the Salt Lake Bees and other partners. The event was held annually as a celebration the long-standing tradition and Governor-declared “Utah Prevention Day”. In 2017, UFPN and Something Good Inc. expanded “Utah Prevention Day” from an annual one-time event to a state-wide Governor-declared celebration in schools throughout the state, sending messages of resiliency and prevention to parents all across Utah. UFPN also continued working with Steve James Productions to support assemblies and community concerts for thousands throughout the state. These combined efforts shaped the beginning of Resilient Utah.
With the release of timely research, UFPN recognized that the resiliency messages that were needed to prevent substance abuse, victimization, anxiety and depression in children were not effectively reaching young students. Partnering with Something Good Inc. and using their proven models to take research-based messages to these students using the medium of music became a new priority. The partnership enabled the realization of UFPN’s mission and created a conduit to parents to help them understand strategies they can use to strengthen their child’s resilience. UFPN is now the exclusive provider of the Resilient Utah program in the state, building lasting resilience in children through schools, homes and communities.
Under Joyce Muhlestein and Barbara Smiths leadership, UFPN served over 50,000 parents annually with a budget of over half a million dollars. UFPN’s Board included state legislators, International business leaders, state agency directors, superintendents, principals, researchers and parents. Joyce Muhlestein, besides being the founder of UFPN, served as Utah PTA President, served on numerous National PTA committees and served on the National Education Review Board working with Richard Riley and Lamar Alexander. Barbara Smith served Utah PTA as the Leadership Vice President and Education Commissioner. She was elected to the Davis Board of Education seven times, serving for 24 years. She was president of two national organizations and currently serves as chair of the Davis Tech College Foundation and on the First Lady of Utah’s Uplift Families Board of Directors.