A House committee voted to save from the budget axe a federal program that facilitates increased parental engagement with their children’s schools.

The House Education and Workforce Committee on May 27 voted against repealing the Parental Information and Resource Center (PIRC) Program, part of a Department of Education initiative that helps support family engagement in education.

PIRC was part of a federal education initiative launched when George W. Bush was president and was the only program salvaged out of more than 40 education programs slated to be cut as the committee considered reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), formally known as No Child Left Behind.

The federally funded program serves 16 million families a year, more than 75 percent of whom are low income, according to the National PTA—an ardent supporter of the PIRC.

The National PTA declared the committee’s approval a “significant victory.”

Through subsidiaries in various states, PIRC provides information and resources to strengthen relationships between schools and parents while helping implement parental involvement policies and programs at local schools.

“Parents and school districts everywhere rely on PIRCs services to increase and improve communication between schools and families,” National PTA President Charles J. “Chuck” Saylors, said in a statement. “PIRCs provide capacity-building and technical assistance to state educational agencies and local school districts to engage all families in education and improve student achievement.” 

But congressional support for PIRC comes as the Department of Education was making plans to defund the federal program next school year. Federal funding for the program peaked in 2004 when it received $42 million. It received $39.25 million in 2009 and the same amount in 2010.

“The majority of PIRCs will probably have existing funding to carry over to keep them open longer than September,” an Education Department spokesperson said.