Even Start helps low-income families break the cycle | PostIndependent.com

Even Start helps low-income families break the cycle

In 1996, the Colorado Preschool Program Coordinator approached Colorado Mountain College about working together to provide more comprehensive services for families in local communities. Several of her clients were low-income parents without high school diplomas and/or unable to speak English, making it difficult for them to help their children reach their potential as learners. In discussions with CMC and other community organizations, a decision was made to pursue an Even Start grant, because it had the potential to serve families in a way that no other organization was doing. As a result, CMC’s Even Start Family Literacy Program began, and is in its ninth year of serving families in our communities. Even Start programs are currently being managed in Glenwood Springs, Carbondale, and Rifle. Providing operational assistance to the Yampah Teen Parent Program in their family literacy work is a requirement of the Even Start grant. Dual language, licensed early childhood facilities were opened in Glenwood Springs and Rifle in the fall of 2003. Literacy is supported in both Spanish and English. Infants and toddlers are also served at these sites.The early childhood programs incorporate best practices in early literacy development from sources including the Colorado Department of Education Building Blocks and Content Standards for Reading, Writing and Mathematics. Both Spanish and English are utilized in the classroom.Topics such as social, emotional, physical and cognitive development of children, strategies for positive discipline, nutrition and health programs for children, early literacy strategies, and home safety, are offered in parenting classes, delivered in Spanish and English. Program participants have been from low-income families in which one parent is able to commit to all of the components of the Even Start Family Literacy program with their child or children ages 7 and younger. The majority of the children of these families are considered “at risk” as defined by the Colorado PreSchool Program eligibility factors. The educational needs of the majority of adults in the families served are to improve English-speaking skills and to earn a GED as a means of gaining independence and self-sufficiency. For most of their children, intensive early childhood education, including exposure to the English language, is required in order to get them at an “Even Start” with their peers before beginning their formal education in the public schools. Kay Vasilakis’ column, “Nonprofit Spotlight,” returns to its previous schedule, appearing every other Wednesday. She is the media coordinator for the Garfield County Human Services Commission. For news tips and information, please contact her at 945-8515, ext. 513 or by e-mail at kvasilakis@postindependent.com.

Purpose: To help break the intergenerational cycle of poverty and illiteracy by providing a unified family literacy program for low-income families. Goals: To help parents improve their literacy skills; help parents become full partners in educating their children; and assist children in reaching their full potential as learners.Clients: Last year, Even Start served a total of 70 families.Contact information: Rebecca Ruland, 384-8520 rruland@coloradomtn.edu

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