Gov. Little, Superintendent Critchfield reflect on Empowering Parents success

Monday December 18, 2023

Boise, Idaho – Governor Brad Little and Superintendent of Public Instruction Debbie Critchfield reflected on the success of the Empowering Parents grant program today, noting the unique microgrants to support educational needs outside the classroom have served more than 49,000 students and 25,000 families in Idaho, with another round of funds open for application now.

The Empowering Parents grants help families cover expenses such as computers and software, instructional materials, and tutoring. Public, private, and homeschool families are eligible.

In addition, Governor Little announced that an outside, independent, third-party audit on the program that he requested earlier this year came back this month and concluded 99.9-percent of total funds were administered properly.

“Empowering Parents has been a resounding success, helping students with their learning needs outside the classroom. When early reports this year suggested potential fraud in the program, we sprang into action. I called for the outside audit and asked the State Board of Education to introduce new checks and protocols in the administration of the grants to ensure confidence in the program. One rarely finds 99.9-percent success with anything in life, especially while rolling out a new program. I am very pleased with the results of the audit,” Governor Little said.

The final report and executive summary of the audit can be found at the following links.

Superintendent Critchfield commented on the work of the Parent Advisory Council, which she chaired. The council held numerous meetings statewide to gather input from parents and provided recommendations on ways to strengthen the Empowering Parents grant program.

“Input from parents is essential, and the Parent Advisory Council was one more way we can tap into parents to help shape Idaho education,” Superintendent Critchfield said. “The council was productive this year as we traveled the state to hear directly from parents on how we can take advantage of all that Empowering Parents offers our state.”

Empowering Parents grew out of the pandemic, where we realized the need to apply some of our relief funds to help families address the learning gaps their children experienced from disruptions in education during the pandemic. The grants have been used to purchase things like tutoring, computers, and other technological devices to help with educational needs outside the classroom.

After the program successfully served more than 49,000 Idaho students and 25,000 families the first round, and the Legislature wisely approved its continuation earlier this year.

Idaho is in the second year of deploying Empowering Parents grants to Idaho families. Applications are open now and parents can go to EmpoweringParents.Idaho.Gov to apply.

“To date, more than 22,000 student applications have been received for the second year of implementation,” State Board of Education Executive Director Matt Freeman said. “We are looking forward to serving Idaho families with the continued success of this program.”

Governor, Superintendent reflect on Idaho’s robust school choice, education freedom options

The Empowering Parents grants add to Idaho’s already robust litany of school choice and education freedom options for Idaho families.

Governor Little noted that:

  • Idaho ranks first in the nation for the best new open enrollment law. We cut red tape around allowing parents to send their child to any public school, regardless of their zip code.
  • Idaho is a top 10 state for the share of our students enrolled in charter schools.
  • We get more bang for our buck as the number one state for return on investment in education.
  • Idaho ranks high in education freedom, measures that include spending, school choice, transparency, and regulations.
  • With nine different school types available to Idaho families – including traditional public schools, public charter schools, public magnet schools, private schools, online academies, homeschooling, and others – there are hundreds of schooling options available to Idaho families.
  • Idaho led the country in standing up the Empowering Parents grant program to provide access to approved educational resources outside the classroom. Public, private, and homeschool families are all eligible to receive grants.

“I will continue to support a fair, responsible, transparent, and accountable approach to expanding school choice in Idaho,” Governor Little said.