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The Literacy Communicator
Volume 11, Number 3 Fall 1996

In this issue:
Welfare Reform
Prison Education Programs
Poling, Reed Receive Awards
“Issue Literacy” Project.
Library Report Released
Membership Form

The George Gund Foundation,
Ohio Secretary of State's Office,
OSU Facilities Management, and
SOS Printing and Graphics
for helping to make the OLN/Adult Learners for the Future citizenship education project a reality. As a result of the contributions of these supporters thousands of copies of citizenship education and voter information materials have been made available to adult learners around the state.
This fall, Channels 16 and 14 in Dayton began airing the GED® on TV series as a part of a pilot project funded by the Ohio Department of Education. The project represents a collaborative effort involving the television stations, Project READ in Dayton, the Ohio Literacy Network and local adult basic and literacy education programs.

A similar collaborative project is planned for southeastern Ohio where, beginning January 18, WOUB/WOUC in Athens will broadcast the series. The Central/Southeastern Ohio Regional Resource Center in Athens, the Ohio Literacy Network and local adult basic and literacy education professionals will be involved in that project, which will receive financial backing from Ohio University.

After the WOUB/WOUC project kicks off in January, individuals in 34 of Ohio's 88 counties will be able to tune in to the program. WOUB/WOUC reaches the following twenty-two counties: Athens, Belmont, Carroll, Coshocton, Fairfield, Gallia, Guernsey, Harrison, Hocking, Holmes, Jackson, Jefferson, Meigs, Monroe, Morgan, Muskingum, Noble, Perry, Ross, Tuscarawas, Vinton, and Washington. Broadcast signals from Channel 16/14 extend to twelve counties in southwestern Ohio: Butler, Champaign, Clark, Clinton, Darke, Greene, Logan, Miami, Montgomery, Preble, Shelby, and Warren.

In both projects, the television stations are responsible for airing and publicizing the series. The Ohio Literacy Network's toll-free 800 number is used on promotional materials. Individuals calling the OLN number inquiring about GED® on TV are provided a description of the project. They also are informed about the availability of local GED® classes. Those interested in pursuing the enrollment process are screened o help ascertain whether or not they have the basic skills necessary to benefit from GED® instruction. Those that definitely do not are referred to local literacy programs for basic skills instruction.

Individuals who from the screening information they provide appear to have necessary reading and math skills are sent an enrollment packet which includes a broadcast schedule, information about obtaining workbooks, and the names and telephone numbers of individuals who may be contacted locally to provide answers to questions about specific lessons. GED® on TV enrollees will be called periodically to check on their progress and to determine if they need additional assistance..

It is hoped that these projects will reach adults who find it difficult to attend regular GED® classes in their community. Evidence from other states indicates that the majority of GED® on TV enrollees report that they would not have studied for their GED® when they did if the television option had not been available.

Ohio's First Lady Janet Voinovich Helps Launch New Series of Cartoon Ads
Two new literacy-related cartoons have been distributed to newspapers throughout Ohio. The ads, a part of the Illiteracy: It's Not a Laughing Matter literacy awareness campaign, were produced under the direction of Peter Guren who draws the Ask Shagg cartoon strip. The other cartoonist who have contributed to the latest and past ads include Chuck Ayers, Tom Batiuk, Mike Peters, and Chuck Sansom.

The major private sponsor for this year's cartoon awareness initiative is Honda of America. Financial donations have also been received from the Ohio Newspaper Association and the Ohio Electric Utility Institute.

The recently enacted federal Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 will result in fundamental changes in requirements for and duration of welfare benefits. The Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program has replaced Aid to Dependent Children and all states must be compliance with the new legislation by July 1, 1997.

Ohio has already submitted an "interim" state plan that brought the state into compliance with the TANF on October 1, 1996. Ohio was motivated to submit a plan early in order to secure as much federal funding as possible to administer the welfare program. Amounts due states are calculated based on caseload. Since the number of welfare recipients are decreasing in Ohio, it was in the state's best interest to lock in on the highest figure possible. For FY 97, Ohio will receive $728 million, an increase of $40 million above the currently anticipated spending level.

How Will Ohio's Welfare System Change?

The Ohio Department of Human Service's state plan, submitted in September to the U.S. Department of Human Services, proposes to continue operating Ohio's welfare program under previously approved plans for administering Aid to Families and Dependent Children and JOBS and approved waivers for those programs. It may be recalled that Ohio's Welfare reform legislation, H.B. 167, passed in 1995, contained several major changes in welfare requirements for which waivers had to be approved by the federal government.

But the new plan also clearly indicates that Ohio will defer to any provisions of the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families Program that are in conflict with Ohio's current AFDC or JOBS plans. Also, the plan will be amended as required to reflect future program changes required after the opportunity for further consideration by the Governor and General Assembly.

Thus, as a result of the new plan and previously approved state reform provisions as of October 1, 1996, Ohio's welfare programs contains the following provisions:

  • Parents or caretakers receiving assistance are required to engage in work when they have been determined ready to do so or after they have received assistance for 24 months, whichever is earlier;
  • Stricter JOBS requirements are in place. For FY 97 a single parent must work for 20 hours a week; in two -parent homes one of the parents must take part in a JOBS activity at least 35 hours a week (See page 3, What Are Allowable Work Activities?);
  • Assistance will continue to individuals who are not citizens of the U.S. if they arrived in the country prior to August 22, 1996. These benefits will continue to be provided at least to 4/1/97 and possibly until 8/22/97. Ohio will exclude from benefits most legal immigrants who arrived after August 22, 1996. Illegal immigrant cannot receive TANF benefits.
  • An 18 year-old can get TANF if he or she is receiving assistance on the parents' or adult relative's case and is enrolled in secondary school full-time;
  • Unmarried minor parents (or unmarried pregnant minors) must live in an adult-supervised setting to be eligible for TANF;
  • Recipients who are pregnant and live in mandatory managed care counties must be checked for drug use to remain eligible for TANF (however, substance abuse sanctions have been delayed);
  • Fugitive felons and persons violating a condition of probation or parole are ineligible for TANF or Food Stamps;
  • Parents must cooperate with the Child Support Enforcement Agency to help establish paternity and a support order within two years or the entire family becomes ineligible for cash assistance;
  • If a cash assistance group is determined to have received fraudulent payments, the entire group is ineligible for assistance until the payments are repaid. Anyone convicted of trafficking Food Stamp benefits of $500 or more is permanently disqualified;
  • Anyone convicted of a felony after October 1, 1996 for having, using or distributing drugs is ineligible for TANF;
  • Able-bodied persons between 16 and 60 who voluntarily quit a job without good cause are ineligible for Food Stamps; and
  • A TANF recipient who is temporarily out of the home for more than 45 days is no longer eligible for cash assistance.
  • Ohio's state plan also calls for action to be taken to prevent and reduce the incidence of out-of-wedlock pregnancies. The state will form a work group compose of staff within the Department of Human Services TANF, child welfare, and Medicaid divisions, working with the existing Governor's Ohio Family and Children First Initiative, the Children's Trust Fund, and the Ohio Department of Health. Also the state will design a program to reach law enforcement officials, educators, and counseling services to provide education and training on the problem of statutory rape so that teenage pregnancy prevention programs may be expanded to include men. Materials will be developed by the Department in conjunction with the Office of the Attorney General and the Departments of Health, Mental Health, and Education.

    The Certification by the Governor accompanying Ohio's state plan indicates that the public will have an opportunity to comment on the state plan and that the comment period would last for at least 45 days. This is to be accomplished through newspaper publication of the plan and a mailing of it to approximately 10,000 local government and private sector organizations.

    Unless they are exempt, adults in families receiving public assistance under the new welfare reform legislation must participate in work activities after receiving assistance for two years. In order to satisfy the work participation requirement, individuals must participate in one or more of the following activities:

  • 1. Unsubsidized employment;
  • 2. Subsidized private sector employment;
  • 3. Subsidized public sector employment;
  • 4. Work experience, but only if sufficient private sector employment is not available;
  • 5. On-the-job-training;
  • 6. Job search and job readiness assistance for up to six weeks (no more than 4weeks can be consecutive);
  • 7. Community service programs;
  • 8. Vocational education training (no more than six months for any individual);
  • 9. Job skills training directly related to employment;
  • 10. Education directly related to employment, in the case of an individual who has not received a high school diploma or its equivalency;
  • 11. Satisfactory attendance at secondary school or course of study leading to the GED® in the case of an individual who has not completed secondary school;
  • 12. Provision of child care services to an individual who is participating in a community service program.
  • From an adult basic and literacy education perspective, there are several important limitations applied to the above activities. Only 20 percent of all families within a state on public assistance may have vocational education count toward participation in a work activity. For all families, 9, 10, and 11 above do not count toward meeting the first 20 hours of the work participation unless the parent is a teen. If that is the case, 10 and 11 above may count toward the first 20 hours of the work requirement.

    SPECIAL NOTE: Ohio has submitted a request to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)to allow GED® and basic education to count toward the work requirements of the new federal welfare reform law. Ohio officials argue that since Ohio has recently received a waiver to administer provisions of Ohio's welfare reform act, which requires recipients to obtain a high school diploma, the state should be allowed to continue to pursue this course. Federal HHS official, Michael Kharfen, has indicated that several other states have made similar requests and they are being considered at this point. RESOURCES

    1996-1997 Directory of Ohio Adult Literacy Programs Available
    Hot off the Press! The Directory of Ohio Adult Literacy Programs for 1996-1997 is now available at the OLN. These directories were distributed at the 1996 OLN Annual Meeting on September 13 and the Fall ABLE Directors Meeting on October 7 & 8. If you do not have a copy and wish one, send a check or money order for $5.00 to cover postage and processing costs to the OLN, 1500 W. Lane Avenue, Columbus, OH 43221 or stop by the OLN office to pick up a copy at no cost. If you have a need for multiple copies of the directory, please call to make special arrangements for shipping (614/486-7757). Also, please remember: Send any updates or corrections to your program listing in the Directory to Heidi as they occur. Thank you for your help in providing this information.
    Book of Literacy Teaching Strategies Now Available
    The International Reading Association was presented with an award for graphic design for publication of the book, Tips at Your Fingertips: Teaching Strategies for Adult Literacy Tutors, which is now available. The book provides ideas and information on materials for adult learners. Copies of the book may be obtained from the International Reading Association by calling 800-336-READ. Cost is $15.95 to members and $21.95 to non-members.)
    Over the past few years questions have been raised about the effectiveness of prison education programs and their impact, if any, on prisoner recidivism. The report, Evaluation of the Impact of Correctional Educational Programs on Recidivism, documents the findings of a study by the Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections that explores the education-recidivism connection. What was found? Study results indicate that overall prison education reduces recidivism slightly by 2.5%. However, specific educational programs have significant impact among several subgroups of inmates. For example:

  • Inmates who achieved a degree or certificate and served less than a year had a reduction in recidivism of more than one-third;
  • Drug offenders who received a degree or certificate had a return rate reduction of close to 40%; and
  • Non-violent offenders who received a degree or certificate had a return rate reduction of one-fourth.
  • Overall, prisoners serving sentences for third and fourth degree felonies were at least a fifth less likely to return to prison than a comparison group if they received an educational degree or certificate as a result of their educational experience. It should be noted that three fourth of all new inmates each year are incarcerated for less serious offenses.

    More serious offenders (two thirds of the prison population at any given time) were not immune from the impact of educational programs. Those first and second degree felons who participated in educational programs had about a seventeen percent lower return rate than a similar group of inmates not involved in education. First degree felons who had GED® programming had a one-third reduction in recidivism and second degree felons had a rate one-half that of a comparison group. GED® program participants who were imprisoned because of crimes against persons had a recidivism rate one-half that of a comparison group and inmates who served sentences for violent crimes and who had participated in a GED® program had a 40% reduction in recidivism.

    Women prisoners also appeared to benefit from educational programming. Those who took part in a prison educational program had a one-third lower recidivism rate than their counterparts who did not. This was true whether or not the inmates just participated or obtained a certificate or degree.

    Timing of the receipt of the GED, college degree, or certificate was also important. The closer the achievement date was to the prisoners release date, the less likely the offender was to return to prison.

    Overall, the report concludes that the recidivism rate for inmates who took part in any education program was 29.5%, the rate for those who took part in an educational program and received either a degree or certificate was 27.9%. The rate of recidivism for a comparison group of inmates was 30.4%. Thus in conclusion, while education programs did not reduce recidivism dramatically for all inmates, specific programs did have a substantial positive impact on subgroups of offenders.

    Edie Poling of the Literacy Initiative in Columbus and Virgil Reed, the President and CEO of Warner Communications in Cincinnati, were the recipients of the 1996 Ohio Literacy Network Service Awards . The awards were presented at the Ohio Literacy Network's Annual Meeting on September 13 in Columbus.

    Poling, one of the founders of the Ohio Literacy Network and the Literacy Initiative in central Ohio, has long been an advocate for adult literacy programs in the Columbus area and statewide. Her work ethic, optimism, and willingness to share of herself and her time have contributed to the growth of several central Ohio literacy programs and to the Ohio Literacy Network. The OLN award was presented to Poling in recognition of her professionalism and of her dedication to adult learners.

    Virgil Reed was given the OLN Award for his volunteer efforts in adult literacy. He was recognized for providing strong leadership in the area of fund raising and program promotion for the Literacy Network of Greater Cincinnati. He is involved in numerous promotional and fund raising efforts including "Hands Across the River," which raises approximately $30,000 annually for the Literacy Network of Greater Cincinnati.

    In addition to the OLN Service Awards, several special awards were presented at the OLN Annual Meeting. American Electric Power was recognized for its long standing support of the publication of the OLN quarterly newsletter--The Literacy Communicator. The Ohio Secretary of State's Office was presented with an award for its commitment to helping adult learners understand voting as evidenced by the office's role in the production of the easy-to-read version of the 1996 Voter Information Guide. Retiring Board members Roger Dyer, Barbara Mahla, and Nona Stricker were recognized for their dedicated service and contribution to the growth of the Ohio Literacy Network.

    Riding on the great success of the past year's voter information and citizenship education project, Adult Learners for the Future (ALF) and the Ohio Literacy Network (OLN) will embark on a project to produce a series of pamphlets aimed at explaining national and state issues of interest and concern to adult learners and their families. Like the recently completed citizenship initiative, the new Issue Literacy project will have as its goal helping adult learners become better informed citizens and stronger, more self-sufficient people.

    Discussions with members of Adult Learners for the Future and others have generated several possible topics for the Issue Literacy project such as welfare reform, affirmative action, deficit reduction, teenage drug use, gun control, and environment issues. The series of easy-to-understand brochures will provide a quick overview of key topics and issues and pros and cons of various sides of the issue. As appropriate, suggestions will be offered for how the reader could obtain additional information and/or what questions they should ask themselves as they formulate their position on the issue.

    ALF members also have expressed a need for easy to understand materials that deal with family relations and daily living skills. Topics such as, health care, telephone fraud, caring for an elderly family member, being a smart consumer, and managing credit cards are some topics that have been suggested. Since other organizations and agencies have attempted to produce materials on these topics targeted to new readers, a search will be conducted to determine what materials already exist and are available at little or no cost. It is anticipated that the end product of this search will be a topical bibliography of easy-to-understand pamphlets and brochures. The bibliography will be made available for distribution to literacy programs throughout the state along with the issue pamphlets produced as a part of this project.

    As with the citizenship education project, the OLN will be seeking private funding to help underwrite costs for producing and disseminating the materials produced as a part of the project.

    The most important aspect of the Issue Literacy Project is its addressing of issues that ALF members and other adult learners believe are important in their lives. Therefore, OLN welcomes any thoughts or comments about this project and suggestions for topics that should be considered. Send your comments and ideas to Darcy Hermann, Ohio Literacy Network, 1500 West Lane Avenue, Columbus OH 43221 or call 614/486-7757.

    New VISTAs Join OLN
    "I joined VISTA to continue in service and learn about a new issue," says Darcy Hermann of Endicott, New York. Darcy graduated last spring with a degree from The Ohio State University, where she was very active, participating in activities ranging from the Women's Varsity Swim Team to the Student Environmental Action Coalition, for which she is currently a national representative. Darcy will be working closely with the Adult Learners for the Future in the upcoming year, and she has been instrumental in establishing procedures for the GED® on TV project. Good luck at the Ohio Literacy Network, Darcy!

    Promotions coordinator Noah Weiss says he is "...doing what comes naturally," at Terrace Guild in Cincinnati. Noah hails from Hurricane, West Virginia, and says he was raised on community service. "My parents started a camp," he says, and tells of the positive influence his parents have had on his life. "VISTA seemed like a good way to stay involved after college," says Noah. Noah, who recently graduated from Xavier University, will be coordinating volunteer and learner recruitment at Terrace Guild.

    Anna Montgomery of Cincinnati has been a VISTA since July. She worked as a systems engineer at Proctor & Gamble before dedicating herself to literacy at Terrace Guild. Anna, who has 8 children, 11 grandchildren, and 1 great-grandchild, was raised in Cherokee, North Carolina, and is half Cherokee Indian. She has been active in initiating after-school programs to assist middle school-children with homework and reading, and she has researched high school proficiency, citizenship, and math programs.

    After retiring from her job as a medical technologist, Laura Herald decided to give back to her community by serving as a VISTA. Laura, who is originally from New Jersey, is the mother of four adult children. Since 1984, she has played a key role in the development and maintenance of an after-school learning center sponsored by her church. With her help, the learning center has thrived. We wish Laura the same success at Project READ in Dayton.

    Benjamin Keller lived in Toledo, Ohio before moving to Dayton to attend Wright State University. Ben was an asset to the campus community at Wright State University, where he was Vice President of student government and active with Campus Crusade for Christ. Ben is presently working at Project READ at Sinclair Community College in Dayton, and says he loves working in the Dayton community. Ben is starting a Campus Crusade for Christ chapter on the Sinclair campus and reflecting on his recent mission in Albania. We wish Ben success in all his endeavors.

    Kelli Kalberer, a recent graduate of Xavier University, became a VISTA to continue in public service after college. Kelli, who studied English at Xavier, is dedicated to helping adults learn to read. A Cincinnati native, Kelli is enjoying all the experience she has gained at the Literacy Network of Greater Cincinnati. She plans to return to college after her VISTA service and get her Ph.D. in American Literature.

    Marni Crabtree of the Literacy Coalition at the Mansfield-Richland County Library brings many insights to to the literacy field. Marni, who grew up in Celina, Ohio, is interested in helping others through experiential learning. Marni recently taught as a graduate intern for a program through Antioch University. Among the projects Marni has visualized are a campaign to make the literacy program more visible locally, and a program to disseminate information and materials to program participants.

    Charles Sheffield is working to improve adult literacy services to adults who are dyslexic. He splits his time between the Scottish Rite's Masonic Children's Learning Center and the Literacy Network of Greater Cincinnati. Charles, who recently received his masters degree in educational psychology from Miami University, is currently working on distributing tapes based on a special teaching approach used with adults with dyslexia.

    Shannon Tolliver is thrilled to contribute to the Springfield community as a VISTA with the Springfield Clark County JVS. Shannon's program works with students between the ages of 18 and 80, all of whom have set academic goals for themselves. Shannon herself is a double major in psychology and sociology at Clark State University. Shannon is excited about her year of VISTA service.

    Alice Leber is serving as the ESL system coordinator with the Literacy Initiative in Columbus and is working to further services to adults in need of ESL instruction in the Columbus area. Alice also will be helping to develop a follow-up system with literacy agencies participating in the Literacy Initiative's Read and Achieve program. Alice, who has lived in many different cities, from Peoria, Illinois to Geneva, Switzerland, graduated in June with a degree in Communications from Ohio University.

    Heather Roll joined the OLN staff in November. She will concentrate on building partnerships with employers, unions, community groups and other organizations and agencies to create awareness of adult literacy needs and services. Heather earned her bachelors degree at Wilmington College in Wilmington, Ohio, graduating magna cum laude. She has been involved in several activities in addition to school. She has studied squatters' rights in the United Kingdom; organized and conducted a spoken word tour in the U.S., and has written articles for Moo, The Comics Journal, and other magazines.

    After a year off, VISTA Millicent Kelly has returned to Reading Enrichment for Adult Development in Cleveland. Millicent in conducting community outreach activities to promote services provided by her organization.

    Welcome to all our new VISTAs!

    Report on Library based Literacy Programs Released
    Even Anchors Need Lifelines: Public Libraries in Adult Literacy is the title of the Center for the Book's report on the role of the public library in literacy. The investigation concluded that the public library's role in adult literacy is threatened due to waning governmental support in recent years. Nineteen recommendations were issued as a result of the study. Some of the key ones are summarized below:

  • Significant government funding needs to be earmarked for library literacy;
  • The philanthropic community could make a significant impact by contributing to library literacy programs;
  • State library agencies should be the lead agencies for planning and developing local public library adult literacy programs;
  • A national planning alliance should be formed;
  • State librarians should seek a wider and more effective involvement in supporting and developing adult literacy services in their local public libraries;
  • A national library literacy data collection system should be created;
  • Existing journals and newsletters of literacy and library organizations should give regular coverage to library literacy programs;
  • National Library Associations, volunteer groups, and other leading groups should recognize the importance of providing adult literacy services in libraries;
  • Good models of library literacy should be identified and disseminated to public libraries;
  • The President, members of Congress, and other leaders should commit to support the wide use of technology in library literacy programs;
  • Decision makers and other literacy professionals should be made aware of the important role of public libraries in adult literacy; and
  • The U.S. Department of Education, National Institute for Literacy, and National Coalition for Literacy should work to support funding for state literacy resource centers. The report also underscores four key facts about public libraries and their role in adult literacy:
  • Literacy programs not affiliated with libraries have access to the basic reading collections and other valuable resources of the library. Most of these programs could not provide these resources on their own.
  • The library culture is uniquely user-friendly for adult learners.
  • Libraries are a fundamental cornerstone of knowledge and information.
  • Public libraries, through their own programs or through partnerships with voluntary and community-based organizations, give educational access to the adults most in need of help—the people who either would not be served at all by school and traditional adult basic education programs or could not be served by them effectively .
  • For an executive summary of the report, Even Anchors Need Lifelines, contact the Center for the Book, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 202/707-5221.

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