Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Passed House amended (09/12/2000)

Literacy Involves Families Together Act - Title I: Family Literacy - Amends the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) to revise and reauthorize Even Start Family Literacy Programs (Even Start) (part B of title I provisions for Helping Disadvantaged Children Meet High Standards).

(Sec. 101) Extends through FY 2005 the authorization of appropriations for such Even Start programs, and increases the amounts authorized.

(Sec. 102) Requires State plans to assure that State educational agencies (SEAs) will encourage local educational agencies (LEAs) and individual schools participating in a program assisted under ESEA title I part A (Improving Basic Programs Operated by Local Educational Agencies) to use part A funds to offer family literacy services, if the LEA or school determines that a substantial number of students served under part A have parents who do not have a secondary school diploma or its recognized equivalent, or who have low levels of literacy.

(Sec. 103) Renames ESEA title I part B as William F. Goodling Even Start Family Literacy Programs.

Directs the Secretary of Education to: (1) reserve an increased portion of part B Even Start funds for migrant programs, outlying areas, and Indian tribes, under specified conditions; (2) award a competitive demonstration grant of sufficient amount and duration for a potentially high-quality family literacy program in a prison that houses women and their preschool age children; (3) ensure coordination of family literacy programs under Even Start with similar programs operated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA); and (4) reserve specified portions of Even Start excess funds for scientifically-based research on family literacy by the National Institute for Literacy.

Authorizes States to use a portion of Even Start funds to provide technical assistance and training to subgrantees (partnerships of LEAs and eligible organizations) to improve the quality of their family literacy services, giving priority to low-quality programs, provided that such State use of funds for a fiscal year does not result in a decrease from the level of activities and services provided to program participants in the preceding year. Allows State use of such funds to provide technical assistance for local programs raise additional funds.

Requires all such instructional staff, whose salaries are paid, in whole or in part, with Federal Even Start funds, within four years after enactment of this Act to: (1) have an associate's, bachelor's, or graduate degree in a field related to early childhood education, elementary school education, or adult education; or (2) meet State-established qualifications for such types of education provided as part of an Even Start or other family literacy program. Requires all new instructional staff, beginning on the enactment of this Act, to meet one of those two requirements. Requires, within such four-year period, that: (1) all paraprofessionals whose salaries are paid with any Federal Even Start funds have at least a high school diploma or its recognized equivalent; and (2) the individual responsible for administrating each local Even Start program be trained in operating a family literacy program.

Requires Even Start programs to: (1) use research-based techniques for helping children learn to read, as well as for helping adults where appropriate research is available; and (2) encourage participating families to attend regularly and remain in the program a sufficient time to meet their program goals.

Allows an Even Start program, despite specified age limitations, to permit children eight years of age or older to participate, if such program collaborates with a part A program and part A funds are used to pay the cost of providing part B Even Start services to such children.

Includes among indicators of an area's need for part B funds the presence of high numbers or percentages of parents who have been victims of domestic violence or who are receiving assistance under a State program funded by a block grant for temporary assistance to needy families under the Social Security Act.

Requires an SEA, in awarding subgrants to continue an Even Start program after the first year, to review the progress of each eligible entity in meeting program goals described in the State plan (as well as, under current law, evaluating the program based on State-developed program quality indicators).

Eliminates the eight-year limitation on a subgrantee's receiving Even Start funds.

Sets the same limits on the Federal share of renewed subgrants as on Even Start grants.

Directs the National Institute for Literacy to use certain reserved Even Start funds for scientifically-based research to determine: (1) the most effective ways of improving literacy skills of adults with reading difficulties; and (2) how family literacy services can best provide parents with knowledge and skills to support their children's literacy development. Requires such research to be carried out through an entity, including a Federal agency, with expertise in doing longitudinal studies of children's literacy skills development, and effective methods of intervention to help children with reading difficulties.

Requires the Secretary, and any grantee or subgrantee receiving Even Start assistance, to treat religious organizations the same as other nongovernmental organizations for purposes of participating in eligible partnerships receiving or applying for such assistance, under specified conditions and limitations, including provisions for fiscal accountability.

Prohibits Even Start services from being provided through vouchers or certificates.

(Sec. 104) Requires State applications for Even Start grants to describe how the State will encourage programs and projects assisted under Even Start to offer family literacy services if the program or project serves a substantial number of migratory children who have parents who do not have a high school diploma or its recognized equivalent or who have low levels of literacy.

(Sec. 105) Defines family literacy services under ESEA as services provided to participants on a voluntary basis that are of sufficient intensity in terms of hours, and of sufficient duration, to make sustainable changes in a family, and that integrate all of the following activities: (1) interactive literacy activities between parents and their children; (2) training for parents regarding how to be the primary teacher for their children and full partners in the education of their children; (3) parent literacy training that leads to economic self-sufficiency; and (4) an age-appropriate education to prepare children for success in school and life experiences.

(Sec. 106) Amends the Education Amendments Act of 1978 to require BIA-operated family literacy programs, under the early childhood education program for Indian children or other programs, to be coordinated with Even Start family literacy programs under ESEA.

Title II: Inexpensive Book Distribution Program - Reauthorizes and revises the Inexpensive Book Distribution Program, with respect to which the Secretary of Education contracts with Reading is Fundamental (RIF). Requires RIF to support and promote programs which include distribution of books to young and school-aged children to help prepare them for reading and motivate older children to read.

(Sec. 201) Requires RIF also to provide training to subcontractors.

Extends through FY 2005 the authorization of appropriations for such Program.

Requires assisted local reading motivation programs to: (1) use Program assistance to provide books, training for volunteers, motivational activities, and other essential literary resources; and (2) give highest priority to serving the youngest and neediest children.

Allows subcontractors operating such programs in low-income communities with substantial numbers or percentages of children with special needs to use funds from other Federal sources to pay up to one-half of the non-Federal share of funds used for acquiring and distributing books.

Authorizes RIF, under specified conditions, to waive certain requirements for subcontractors and to enter into multi-year subcontracts.