FOUR PILLARS OF FAMILY LITERACY
Grace Place believes that in order to make a lasting impact on a family, as many family members as possible need to be included. Research shows that when the entire family is involved, it positively affects family interactions, child development, a sense of community, parent and child’s literacy skills, and parenting skills (Carroll, 2017).
The American Psychological Association reports that children who are prepared for kindergarten are more likely to have continued academic success, attain higher levels of education, and secure employment more often than their peers who are not. By making highquality early childhood education available, we ultimately empower students to break the intergenerational cycle of poverty. By training parents to be capable and confident teachers, we empower them to help their children prepare for kindergarten and to achieve throughout their academic careers.
Further, research by Dr. Stephen Reder on adult basic skills training, such as parents receive in our Bright Beginnings Program, confirms the long-lasting and deep positive impacts such programs have on students and, by extension, their families. Adult students who receive basic skills training go on to achieve higher levels of education, earn higher salaries, and be more engaged citizens than their peers. The impact of this training compounds over time and evident more than a decade after it has taken place. These positive impacts are especially pronounced when skills training reaches 100 hours of contact (Reder, 2012).
As early as 9 months, children in families with low incomes show lags in cognitive and behavioral development. This leads to children lagging behind their peers by as much as 18 months when entering kindergarten (Garcia & Weiss, 2017). Other risk factors, such as having non-English-speaking parents or parents with low education levels, especially when combined with poverty, can markedly increase children’s chances of adverse outcomes. Nearly all of the children Grace Place serves exhibit two or more of these risk factors.
Children in our community were not participating in early childhood education (ECE) due to the following reasons: the high cost of ECE, lack of spots and access to ECE programs, their lack of English skills, rigid application process requiring documents they do not have, and a distrust of the government, especially among undocumented immigrants. This is not uncommon. In general, children of immigrant parents tend to participate less than their native counterparts in early childhood programs of any type (Karoly & Gonzalez, 2011). They seldom use nonparental care. One reason parents feel comfortable coming to a family literacy program is that their child is with them at the same center. We are striving to reach these children who would most likely never participate in early childhood experiences and most likely not be ready for kindergarten.