Family and Community Literacy

Who We Are

History

Even Start family literacy programs are funded by four-year federal grants and administered through State Education Departments. To qualify, participating families must meet specific federal income guidelines, include children whose ages span birth through eight, and adults in need of higher education (pre-GED and/or ESL). All Even Start families are provided with four basic components: 1) ESOL and/or Adult Basic Education classes; 2) Parenting Education workshops; 3) Early Childhood education for infants and toddlers; and 4) opportunities to engage in Inter-generational Literacy Activities (ILA). Services are offered at community and home-based sites and provided by teachers and family educators. All Even Start components are focused on building a literacy-based relationship between parent and child.

The ILS has partnered with or provided professional development services to four New York City school districts participating in the Even Start program. Our primary work with Even Start staffs in Bronx Districts 7 (1993-2001) and 10 (2004-present) has been to infuse literacy into the four components of the program in order to insure the delivery of high quality services to participating Even Start families. In past years, the ILS also contracted to provide professional development with a literacy focus to Even Start programs in Districts 4 and 9. In this capacity, we worked with staffs to take an inquiry-based stance toward literacy practices and develop age-appropriate curricula and activities tailored to the specific needs of Even Start participants.

Our first Even Start collaboration, Project FLITE (Family Literacy Involvement Through Education), became an eight-year partnership between the ILS and Community School District 7. FLITE was one of seven sites selected for the New York State Even Start Longitudinal Evaluation Project, and is featured in the New York State Education Department publication, Portraits of Families: New York State Even Start Family Literacy Partnership, the Longitudinal Evaluation Project, 1997-2001.

The success of Project FLITE led to Project STARS Even Start, the current collaboration between the ILS and Region One of the NYC Department of Education. Based at PS 396 in District 10, Project STARS Even Start began in 2004 and was the only newly-funded Even Start program in New York City for that year. Funding for this program allowed us to develop a powerful model that draws upon ILS staff with expertise in staff development, early childhood education, adult education, and program development.

In its first year, Project STARS successfully recruited 40 families, double the number required of first-year projects. In addition, the 2004 five-week summer project called, "Summer in the Bronx: Healthy Minds, Healthy Bodies," was developed and planned through close collaboration with several community-based partners serving on the Project STARS Advisory Council. The Project STARS Advisory Council meets twice yearly and includes the branch supervisor of the local public library, an administrator from the local health provider, the director and local representative of Literacy, Inc., the project coordinator of another, nearby Even Start program, administrators from local schools and pre-school facilities, and the principal of a neighboring parochial school.

Beliefs

The ILS literacy work with Even Start programs starts with core beliefs and values about work with staffs and families:

  • respect for parents as the first and primary teachers of their children
  • parent involvement and partnership as key to children's success in school
  • staff development that builds on the capacities, strengths and interests of children, parents, family and staff members
  • literacy education that helps families to become economically self-sufficient and successful in school settings

Funders

The family literacy programs of the Institute for Literacy Studies have been supported by the New York State Education Department and the New York City Department of Education.

Last modified: Oct 13, 2011

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