Chapter 1 - Family Literacy


Section One: What is Family Literacy?


This chapter includes discussion about what family literacy is and what forms it has taken. Excerpts and references to legislation that govern family literacy are provided. You will also find print and web resources for further exploration.




Before examining the concept of family literacy, we must understand what it means to be a literate adult today. In the 1998 Adult Education and Family Literacy Act, the US Congress defines adult literacy as “an individual’s ability to read, write, and speak in English, compute and solve problems, at levels of proficiency necessary to function on the job, in the family, and in society.”   With this definition, the traditional emphasis on reading, writing and speaking English and on computation skills has shifted to the application of these skills in the workplace and community and the use of information to solve problems.


For the past 30 years, parent involvement in children’s education has been expanding. School programs like Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) and Title I, which were originally designed for school-age children, have incorporated programs for families. Head Start demonstrated that parents’ participation produced greater school success than programs without parent involvement. The PACE/Kenan project in Kentucky developed a successful model for teaching literacy skills to both parents and children, in which content skills were supplemented by parent education and parent-child activity time. Barbara Bush, then the President’s wife, founded a national foundation to promote family reading through which parents improved their own skills while helping their children. The International Reading Association created a commission to study family literacy from a broad perspective and to disseminate information on the way literacy is used in families, on parent involvement initiatives, and on intergenerational literacy initiatives. The federal legislation for family literacy, based on the Kentucky model and shepherded by Representative William Goodling from Pennsylvania, ushered in Even Start in 1988.


It is not surprising, then, that family literacy means different things to different people. Family literacy refers to the interactions of parents and children using language—talking, playing, exploring, limiting, soothing, explaining, encouraging, and nurturing. With the support of the adults in his or her life, a child learns to navigate his or her world with the help of language, acquiring limits and self-control, making choices and solving problems, communicating needs to others, developing emotional ties to parents and siblings, and responding to the print environment surrounding him or her. In recent decades, the locus of emergent literacy has shifted from learning to read in the first grade to preschool  interactions in the home environment and from the first-grade teacher to the parent as first teacher.


A second use of the term family literacy applies to the federally funded programs developed to support intergenerational education for at-risk, low-literacy families—programs such as Head Start, Even Start, ABLE, and Title I. The legislation authorizing these programs contains a uniform definition of family literacy that entails four components:

*          adult basic education to improve basic skills, prepare for the General Educational Development certificates (GED), and to learn workplace skills that leads to economic self-sufficiency

*          early childhood education for preschool and school-age children to help them prepare for success in school and life experiences

*          parent education in which parents and caregivers discuss parenting practices and the importance of literacy experiences in the home

*          parent and child together time (PACT) for adults and children to practice literacy activities together.


While improving their reading, writing and math skills, parents have an opportunity to practice language strategies with their children in areas such as storybook reading, discipline, and play and exploration. These skills are integrated into units arising from family issues, citizenship, and workforce readiness.


Parents, children, and communities benefit from family literacy programs. Not only do individual literacy skills of parents and children improve but social skills increase and families place higher values on education. Parents’ expectations of their children change as they learn more about the continuum of child development. Parents become more involved in their children’s schools as they better understand new educational approaches and recognize the important role they have as partners with teachers in their children’s education.

For more information on the research about benefits of family literacy programs see Family Literacy: Who Benefits at


Family literacy, whether spontaneous or promoted by formal programs, is a process of incorporating the spoken and written word into meaningful activities within the family unit. This becomes the legacy of language practices that passes from one generation to the next.




Legislation that defines and funds family literacy programs is found in the following governmental agencies and departments:


U.S. Department of Education

Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) Programs (No Child Left Behind)

         Title I, Part A

         Reading First (Title I, Part B, Subpart 1)

         Early Reading First (Title I, Part B, Subpart 2)

         Even Start, Migrant Even Start and Indian Even Start (Title I, Part B, Subpart 3)

         Even Start Statewide Family Literacy Initiative Grants

         Education of Migratory Children (Title I, Part C)

         Comprehensive School Reform Demonstration (Title I, Part F)

         State and Local Technology Grants (Title II, Part D, Subpart 1)

         Ready to Learn Television (Title II, Part D, Subpart 3)

         Grants and Subgrants for English Language Instruction (Title III, Part A)

         21st Century Community Learning Centers (Title IV, Part B)

         Local Innovative Education Programs (Title V, Part A)

         Community Technology Centers (Title V, Part D, Subpart 11)

         Indian Education (Title Vii, Part A)

         Native Hawaiian Education (Title Vii, Part B)

         Alaska Native Education (Title Vii, Part C)

Adult Education and Family Literacy Act (Workforce Investment Act, Title II)

Federal Work-Study Program (Higher Education Act)


Bureau of Indian Affairs

Family And Child Education (FACE) Program


U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Head Start, Early Head Start, Migrant Head Start, and Indian Head Start (Head Start Act)

Community Services Block Grant (Community Services Block Grant Act)

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) (Title I, PRWORA)


U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Neighborhood Networks Program

Resident Opportunity and Self-Sufficiency Program


U.S. Department of Commerce

Technology Opportunities Program


State Sources

Departments of Adult Education and Early Childhood Education

Departments of Human Services, Social Services and Labor

State Library Programs


Source: Handout from presentation “Tips for Advocacy,” Tony Peyton, NCFL, Ohio ECE Conference, Nov. 2004.



Federal Web Sites for Legislative Information


The White House


United States Senate


United States House of Representatives


U.S. Department of Education


Federal Register





State Web Sites for Legislative Information


Ohio Government


Ohio House of Representatives


Ohio Senate


Ohio Legislature with bill search


Ohio Department of Education




The legislative definitions of literacy can be found in several different bills.


The National Literacy Act of 1991

Literacy is an individual’s ability to read, write and speak in English and compute and solve problems at levels of proficiency necessary to function in the job and in society, to achieve one’s goals and to develop one’s knowledge and potential.


Even Start Family Literacy

It is the purpose of this part to help break the cycle of poverty and illiteracy by improving the educational opportunities of the nation’s low-income families by integrating early childhood education, adult literacy or adult basic education, and parenting education into a unified family literacy program to be referred to as Even Start. The program shall:

(1)    be implemented through cooperative projects that build on existing community resources to create a new range of services

(2)    promote achievement of the National Education Goals and

(3)    assist children and adults from low-income families to achieve challenging state content standards and challenging state student performance standards.

(Federal definition in the Even Start legislation, Part B, Title I of Elementary and Secondary Education Act).


H.R. 1385, passed by the House in 1997

The term family literacy services means 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 (such as eliminating or reducing welfare dependency) and that integrate all of the following activities:

A)  Interactive literacy activities between parents and their children.

B)  Equipping parents to partner with their children in learning.

C)  Parent literacy training that leads to economic self-sufficiency.

D)  Appropriate instruction for children of parents receiving parent literacy services.


Several states have developed definitions for family literacy.


Ohio Family Literacy Task Force, 1997

Families are the center of our communities. Parents are their children’s first and most influential teachers. Family literacy is an approach to intergenerational learning focused on the whole family and the whole person within the family. This approach builds on the family’s culture and traditions. Family literacy can range from parent (and/or other significant adult) and child interaction to more intense, comprehensive programming. Comprehensive family literacy program delivery involves the integration of four components: adult literacy and employability skills; developmentally appropriate early childhood and/or school-age educational assistance; parent education and support; and positive adult and child interaction. The primary goals of comprehensive family literacy programs are:

     to help parents become economically self-sufficient

     to improve basic literacy skills of parents, other significant adults, and children

     to increase parents’ involvement in their children’s education

     to enhance children’s development, school readiness, and school success

     to enhance parenting (and/or caregiving) skills

     to enhance parent (and/or other significant adult) and child relationships


Family literacy programs are unique to each community. Using existing resources, local organizations collaborate to provide the integrated learning and support services that promote literacy and lifelong learning skills for family success.


Massachusetts Family Literacy Consortium

Family literacy is coordinated learning among different generations in the same family which helps both adults and children reach their full personal, social, and economic potential.

Office of Adult Education, Colorado Department of Education, 1992

Family literacy is an approach to intergenerational learning focused on the family. It acknowledges family and culture as the foundation of learning for the child. Family literacy recognizes the parent as the child’s first teacher and the literacy of the parent as crucial to the development of the literacy of the child. Family literacy provides instruction to enrich the home environment through interactive, intergenerational learning that models, supports, values and promotes literacy and lifelong learning skills.


Oregon definition (adopted in 1994)

In Oregon, family literacy is a family-focused integrated program of adult, parent and childhood education. It is a collaboration of aligned partners that focuses on the family developing literacy skills together to empower individuals to live with competence in their communities. Family literacy provides and includes basic skills for adults, parenting support and education, common components and broad outcomes, flexible design based on community needs and resources, efficient and flexible use of resources.


A national organization involved in family literacy contributed this definition.


International Reading Association Family Literacy Commission

Family literacy encompasses the ways parents, children, and extended family members use literacy at home and in their community. Family literacy may be initiated purposefully by a parent, or may occur spontaneously as parents and children go about the business of their daily lives. Family literacy activities may be initiated by outside institutions or agencies. These activities are often intended to support the acquisition and development of school-like literacy behaviors of parents, children, and families.

(1994). Family literacy: New perspectives, new opportunities. Newark, DE: International Reading Association.


The LINCS Family Literacy Collection Home Page 


The family constitutes a context of informal education, a base from which members seek formal education, and should provide a supportive environment for learning. Literacy has a dramatic effect on the dissemination of ideas and the ability of families to adopt new approaches, technologies and forms of organization conducive to positive social change. Often affected by early school leaving or dropping out, literacy is a prime conditioner of the ability of families to adapt, survive and even thrive in rapidly changing circumstances....

(U.N. Statement on Family Literacy)


Family literacy is an umbrella term often used to describe a wide array of programs involving family members and literacy activities. The nature and intensity of services can span a wide range, from once-a-month library reading events to programs that offer daily, direct educational services to both parents (or caregivers) and children. We apply the term to comprehensive programs that: 1) work with at-risk families, 2) have broad goals, 3) offer multifaceted services that meet educational and other-than-educational needs of both parents and children, and 4) provide intensive, long-term program services.


National Center for Family Literacy

The goals of a comprehensive family literacy program focus primarily on the adults in the program. Research supports the premise that changes in the attitudes and behaviors of parents will affect changes in their children. While individual programs may vary, the goals of most family literacy programs include the following:

     to enhance the educational level of parents or provide English language instruction.

     to help parents gain the motivation, skills, and knowledge needed to become employed or pursue further education or training.

     to enhance the parenting skills of adult participants.

     to enable parents to become familiar with and comfortable in school settings.

     to increase the developmental skills of preschool children and to better prepare them for academic and social success in school.

     to enhance the interaction(s) between parents and children through planned, regular joint activities. (p. 5)

(1997). The Family literacy answer book. Louisville, KY: Author.


Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy

Family literacy programs are characterized by literacy and parenting education for adults, pre-reading and other literacy activities for children, time for parents to use their newly acquired skills with their children.


Many education scholars have also articulated definitions of family literacy.


This definition includes, but is not limited to, direct parent-child interactions  around literacy tasks: reading with and/or listening to children; talking about and giving and receiving support for homework and school concerns; engaging in other activities with children that involve literacy (such as cooking, writing notes, and so on). Equally important, however, are the following, often neglected, aspects of family literacy work:

1.   Parents working independently on reading and writing. On the most basic level, just by developing their own literacy, parents contribute to family literacy; as parents become less dependent on children, the burden shifts and children are freer to develop in their own ways.

2.   Using literacy to address family and community problems. Dealing with issues such as immigration, employment, or housing through literacy work makes it possible for literacy to become socially significant in parents’ lives; by extension it models the use of literacy as an integral part of daily life for children.

3.   Parents addressing child-rearing concerns through family literacy class. By providing mutual support and a safe forum for dialogue, parents can share and develop their own strategies for dealing with issues such as teenage sex, drugs, discipline, and children’s attitudes toward language choice.

4.   Supporting the development of the home language and culture. As parents contribute to the development of the home language and culture, they build the foundation for their children’s academic achievement, positive self-concept, and appreciation for their multicultural heritage. By valuing and building on parents’ strengths, the status of those strengths is enhanced.

5.   Interacting with the school system. The classroom becomes a place where parents can bring school-related issues and develop the ability to understand and respond to them. They can explore their attitudes toward their own and their children’s school experiences. They can assess what they see and determine their responses, rehearse interactions with school personnel, and develop support networks for individual and group advocacy.

Auerbach, E. (1989). Toward a socio-contextual approach to family literacy. Harvard Educational Review, 59, 165-181.


Primarily, two frameworks may inform the design of family literacy intervention models. Some programs focus on helping the family support the development of skills and behaviors required in the children’s classroom, leading to parent-child activities that follow a school-based model of literacy acquisition. Other programs aim to extend emerging literacy skills by embedding learning within families’ everyday literacy practices and interactions, even if their purposes or circumstances are different from those of formal school-based learning contexts. (p. 9)

Gal, I., & Stoudt, A. (1995, September). Family achievement in mathematics. NCAL Connections, pp. 9-10.


Family literacy is not about changing people; it is about offering choices and opportunities for families. Parents come to family literacy programs with rich histories and experiences that should be honored and used in program development. Family literacy learning is a matter of “small wins.” Family literacy is about providing context, resources, and opportunities for families to demonstrate what they already know and can already do. Family literacy programs MUST respond to parents’ needs and interests. Family literacy is about power.

Neuman, S.B. (1997, November). Family literacy: A social constructivist perspective. Presented at the meeting of the College Reading Association, Boston.


Family literacy programs differ from traditional adult literacy programs in that they are designed to maximize the probability that adults who receive literacy

education will actually succeed in transferring aspects of their new beliefs,

attitudes, knowledge, and skills intergenerationally to their children. (p. 24)

Sticht, T. G. (1995, November/December). Adult education for family literacy. Adult Learning, 23-24.


Although not definitions in the strict sense, this information may be useful as you work to help others understand the family literacy concept.


Emerging research studies assert that children’s motivation to succeed in school is influenced by the educational achievement of their parents. Cognitive science stresses the impact of the family and social environment on cognitive development and literacy acquisition of children. Parental involvement in their children’s schools influences student achievement, attendance, motivation, self concept and behavior. Parents who read to their children, have books in their

home, exhibit a positive attitude toward school and establish high achievement goals for children tend to have higher achievers than parents who do not.

Fact Sheet: Family Literacy. U.S. Department of Education, Office of Vocational and Adult Education.


A salient finding from two decades of research on early childhood intervention programs is that, aside from the influence of a child’s own years of education, the variable that has remained most consistently influential in children’s educational achievement has been parental education levels. Briefly, what has been discovered is that, as a general trend, the more highly educated the parents, the greater will be the success in providing primary education to children.

Van Fossen, S., & Sticht, T. (1991). Teach the mother and reach the child. Washington, DC: Wider Opportunities for Women. p. 3.


Nearly 13 million children live in poverty, more than 2 million more than a decade ago.

At least one of six children has no health care at all.

At least 100,000 children are homeless in America on any given night.

Each year 500,000 young people drop out of school.

Dropouts are 3.5 times more likely than high school graduates to be arrested; 6 times more likely to become unwed parents.

Every year, approximately 1 million teenage girls become pregnant.

The percent of all births to single teens increased 16 percent from 1986 to 1991.

Stallings, Jane A. (April 1995) American Educational Research Association. School-Linked Comprehensive Services for Children and Families. AERA President’s remarks. pp. xi-xii.


The family literacy concept makes explicit what has been implicitly understood, and recognizes the family as an institution for education and learning and the role of parents as their children’s first teachers. The starting point for the development of human resources within a culture is the family. Families provide an intergenerational transfer of language, thought, and values to the minds of their newborn infants and throughout the formative years of their children’s lives. Families provide initial guidance in learning to use the cultural tools that will be valued and rewarded within the culture. Families interpret the culture for their children, and they mediate the understanding, use, and value placed on the cultural tools for learning and education, of which the capstone tools are language and literacy. (p. 24) Due to the intergenerational transfer of cognitive skills, including language and literacy, an investment in the literacy education of adults provides “double duty dollars.” It improves the educational level of adults and simultaneously improves the educability and school success of the adults’ children. (p. 24)


Better-educated parents send children to school better prepared to learn, with higher levels of language skills, and knowledge about books, pencils, and other literacy tools needed for school and life. Better educated mothers have healthier babies, smaller families, children better prepared to start school, and children who stay in school and learn more. (p. 24)

Sticht, Thomas G. (1995, November/December). Adult education for family literacy. Adult Learning, pp. 23-24.


Long-term National Center for Family Literacy follow-up studies found the


  1. Fifty-one percent of adults participating in family literacy programs earned their GED or the equivalent.
  2. Forty-three percent became employed, compared with 14% before enrolling.
  3. Thirteen percent enrolled in higher education or training programs and another 11% continued in GED programs.
  4. Twenty-three percent of those who were on public assistance when they enrolled are now self-sufficient.

National Institute for Literacy. Fact sheet: Family literacy. Washington, DC: Author.



Family Literacy Web Resources

Canada’s National Adult Literacy Database has a Family Literacy resource section, which provides many materials that can be downloaded.  Some of the items available on this site include guides, handbooks and magazines. Scroll down and locate the link titled Family Literacy Materials to locate the resource section.

The Center for Adult English Language Acquisition, supported by the Center for Applied Linguistics, Abt Associates, American Institutes for Research (AIR) and World Education, provides workshops, technical assistance, research information, and a web site with resources for EL Civics, health literacy, best practices, and fact sheets about English language learning.

Educational Development Center (EDC) contains several online resources such as publications, articles, and Web pages on Adult and Family Literacy.

Florida Family Literacy Resource Guide Website: This comprehensive website is jam-packed with excellent resources.

Specializing in family literacy research, The Goodling Institute directs the searcher to 1) an annotated bibliography of family literacy research alphabetized by author and identified by category; 2) an agenda of research issues; 3) professional development courses at Penn State; and 4) the Center for the Book with lesson plans and book lists.

The National Center of Applied Linguistics offers information and materials around language and cultural issues from K-12 to adult.

The National Center for the Study of Adult Learning and Literacy (NCSALL) site highlights research, publications, teaching and training (Circle Study Guides), and issues of Focus on Basics publications that can be downloaded free of charge.

Ohio Literacy Resource Center contains many resources for family literacy, three of which are: Family Literacy Resource Notebook, The LINCS Special Collection on Family Literacy,, and Eureka!, , searchable database of books, teaching strategies, web sites, and lesson plans. The Family Literacy Resource Notebook contains information for family literacy providers and organizations who are interested in learning more about family literacy.

Digests, fact sheets, and monographs going back to 1966 are now available on the Education Resources Information Center (ERIC) site.

The Literacy Information and Communication System (LINCS) has a search capability with five options: Materials, both research and curricular; Global for web sites in the LINCS network; America’s Literacy Directory; List for archived discussion on NIFL online discussion groups; and Grants. To join a discussion group/list for family literacy and for technology related issues go to To join one or both, enter your name, e-mail address and select the discussion groups/lists you are interested in.

The National Center for Family Literacy:  "A non-profit organization supporting family literacy services for families across the United States through programming, training, research, advocacy, and dissemination." The policy and advocacy link provides legislation information.


Section Two: What Does Family Literacy Look Like?


Family literacy describes a variety of activities that range from a parent reading and discussing a story with a child to a formal program with many coordinated services to help both adults and their children. Many organizations offer activities involving parents and children without realizing that they are involved in family literacy. For example, some hospitals and clinics utilize waiting rooms as a place to convey oral and printed information on nutrition, health, and hygiene for parents and their children while providing toys and books for the children. These are family literacy activities that could become a program with the addition of a defined goal and some leadership direction. No two programs look alike. Family literacy takes place in libraries, community centers, workplace sites, and jails as well as in school classrooms. In order to recognize family literacy in its many forms, descriptions of several programs are included in this chapter with information on how to contact them for more details.



Proliteracy, formed by the merger of two national tutoring programs—Laubach and Literacy Volunteers of America—has incorporated family literacy components in some local programs.

Information about Proliteracy can be found at


Volunteer-based Programs

Project: LEARN of Summit County offers one-on-one tutoring, small-group classes, and computer-assisted education. Classes include reading, writing, math, life skills, computers, workplace skills and family literacy. During 2003, Project: LEARN, which has been in existence since 1984, had 175 active volunteer tutors who worked with more than 450 students in small group classes and one-on-one tutoring. Project: LEARN is funded by the United Way and other grants, gifts, and donations. It serves the functionally non-literate–-those adults whose literacy skills are assessed at below a fifth grade level. Project: LEARN programming is free of charge. Students are asked to purchase books at cost if payment is not a hardship.


Project: LEARN attempted to incorporate the families of learners in a family literacy component called L.I.F.T. (Literacy Involves Family Togetherness). Students brought their children aged 3-12 to class with them, and a special area was set up in the Project: LEARN center. The children participated in facilitated learning activities while their parents were tutored. After tutoring, parents joined the children for PACT (Parent and Child Together) activities. They were also given activities to do at home.


Unfortunately, the L.I.F.T. program did not last long. One reason was space limitations. The exuberant children were distracting to the tutoring lessons going on in the same area. Another reason was a lack of funding for a facilitator. (The project had originally been set up by VISTAs—Volunteers in Service to America.)

To contact Project: LEARN of Summit County call 330-434-9461 or visit


Reading Is Fundamental

Though family literacy can be defined in many ways, the clearest “picture” one could draw would be one of a parent and child reading together. Reading is Fundamental (RIF) is a national reading program begun in the 1960s that delivers free books to children (infancy through high school) who are hard to reach: those in hospitals, immigrant labor camps, homeless shelters, and other crisis facilities. But RIF operates in traditional settings such as libraries and schools as well. Besides free books, RIF provides programs and activities designed to promote reading as fun and enjoyable, because one of its primary goals is to help children become lifelong readers. From their many years in the field, RIF workers have come to know the importance of involving parents in their children's reading. Since RIF programs are run by local volunteers, they are tailored to meet the needs of the local community.

To learn more about the Reading Is Fundamental program visit their website at:



F.Li.P. (Family Literacy Project) was a successful family literacy program implemented at Forest Creek School in Texas. To promote reading as a family, a weekly goal was set. Infants and preschoolers were included. Families received points for the number of minutes they read aloud with each other every week. A record sheet was filled out and sent in to the school each month, and celebrations were held at school to acknowledge the number of minutes read by all.




The Secretary of State in Illinois started Family Reading night in conjunction with Family Literacy Month in November. In November one day is set aside for family reading activities. More information about Family Reading Night along with suggestions for activities can be found at:


Correction Facilities

Even though inmates are usually separated from their families, innovative family literacy programs have begun to appear in penal institutions. Georgetown University sponsors a family literacy program for inmates of the District of Columbia known as the D.C. Family Literacy Project. The project helps incarcerated parents develop the literacy of their children through enhancing their own literacy-building and parenting abilities. Parents learn new ideas in child development and family literacy -- such as reading to children, storytelling, expressive arts and crafts, and put them into practice during special family visits. The project is a collaboration among the Georgetown University Law Center, the D.C. Public Library, and the D.C. Department of Corrections. The use of children's books allows parents a chance to bond with their children in a pleasant environment of song and story. They also experience personal success in reading, sometimes for the first time. To learn more about the D.C. Family Literacy Project go to:


Bringing Family Literacy to Incarcerated Settings: An Instructional Guide


The significant pieces of the Albany City School District model were the development of a life skills/parenting class and a structured time for incarcerated parents to be together with their children. The activities that occur during the family’s time together have a literacy theme and are appropriate to the learning level of both parent and child. Additionally, New York State was a recipient of a federal Even Start Family Literacy Women in Prison grant. This two-year grant funded a family literacy program at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility. The program integrated the typical Even Start components of adult literacy, early childhood education and parenting education. Participants engaged in a 30-hour-a-week program for a six-month period. The women spent three hours daily on their own adult education, and another three hours on parenting, early childhood education, and children’s literature. The Bedford Hills program provided transportation each week for children and other family members to visit the mothers, read, play, and do age-appropriate learning activities together in a colorful, pleasant playroom. Four inmates and one civilian teacher/manager taught the educational and parenting programs. The four inmate teachers, who had excellent credentials but no previous teaching experience, were trained in teaching techniques and curriculum development. A corps of civilian volunteers from the surrounding area augmented the teaching staff in order to provide a low student/teacher ratio. Student interests drove the instruction with materials provided according to students’ decisions—books, magazines, and newspapers.


Although direct federal funding ended, the project has obtained alternative funding to continue. Two existing Even Start Family Literacy Partnerships (Sodus-Lyons Even Start and Yates-Ontario Even Start) expanded their projects to the incarcerated setting. For more information, contact Bedford Prison Ministry
247 Harris Road
Bedford Hills, NY

Tel: 914-241-3100



Doctor’s Offices

Born to Read

Many state and local libraries have expanded their programming to include parents and children together. Libraries in Ohio (and beyond) offer partnership and collaboration to support family literacy. It is evident that reaching at-risk parents, most of whom are not library users and may not be able to read themselves, is difficult. As a response to this challenge, the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), produced a program called Born To Read.

This program, started in 1995, endeavors to bring together health care providers and librarians to reach out to new and expectant parents to help break the cycle of low literacy. The hope is that together, health care providers and librarians can help parents improve their reading skills, impress upon them the importance of reading to their children, and promote awareness of the health and parenting resources available in libraries.


Reach Out and Read

The Reach Out and Read (ROR) program ( began in Boston in 1992. ROR involves pediatricians, other professionals, and nonprofessional members of the community in supporting parents to lay the foundations for literacy during their children's first years of life. ROR uses the pediatric office or clinic to bring together young families, pediatricians, volunteers, and children's books. Distinctive features of the program include volunteers who look at books with children in pediatricians' waiting rooms. Pediatricians talk with parents about the importance of reading aloud and give each child a new, developmentally and culturally appropriate children's book at each visit to the doctor's office.



Library staff dedicated to helping children and adults offer a large variety of services and programs that promote family literacy. Public libraries are accessible, familiar, welcoming sites for family literacy activities.


Many libraries have some type of reading program in place, as do some schools and other community organizations. Reading programs are very creative and can easily be adapted to the individual community. Some, for example, might have a story hour in both Spanish and English. Most use some type of incentive to get children to read, and more are attempting to get adults involved Traditionally, many children's reading programs involve only the children. But the push for family literacy has prompted many libraries to expand their efforts to include the family.


Local libraries are broadening their literacy efforts as well. The West Hill Branch of the Akron/ Summit County Public Library expanded the library's Summer Reading Club to a Family Reading Club. The library has also created several "intergenerational" literacy activities. One was called Grandpair of Readers, in which children were given a kit of literacy activities to do with their grandparents. They received stickers for tasks completed and prizes were given. Family Book Bingo was a similar literacy program for children and their parents. The library's story hour was also moved to retirement communities in order to expose seniors and children to each other.


The historic Stinson Memorial Library located in deep southern Illinois designed and delivered multicultural intergenerational literacy experiences for the residents of Union County. In 1993, the library district applied for and received grant funding for Project CLEARR (Community Literacy Experience: Accessing the Riches of Reading). The goal was to assist those “displaced breadwinners” in strengthening their family life while improving their job and literacy skills. CLEARR supported these activities:

  Provided a bilingual literacy coordinator to the targeted families.

  Formed an advisory council comprised of academic, social service, education, and community agencies.

  Developed strategies to recruit and retain participants.

  Establish a first-step, high-interest, low-difficulty vocational collection.

  Held family reading events that engaged local craftspeople, artisans, professionals, trades people, and business owners to present workshops on the knowledge, skills, and vocabulary needed in their occupations.


Project CLEARR hosted vocational workshops in the library and at business locations. The workshops focused on the words and phrases common to each occupation presented. Project staff developed a glossary of terms that would enable participants to understand and access further employment in these lines of work. Terms and definitions appeared on large signs in English and Spanish, were used during workshops, and were provided to participants in workshop materials. Workshops attempted to engage full family participation. Sometimes, the children attended a story hour on a related topic in one part of the library, while the adults attended the workshop in another. For instance, the children read the story of Paul Bunyan and his mighty ax while the adults were learning “How to Make a Chair from a Tree.” Themes ranged from interviewing skills to money matters, from basket-making as a home-based business to the art of stained glass.


The regular attendance averaged 40 adults with a few workshops drawing as many as 70 participants (both English and Spanish-speaking). Families connected on the important issues of jobs, education, and literacy enrichment. Displaced workers enjoyed learning with their spouses and children, and children enjoyed sharing a learning experience with their parents.


Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh

This library has sponsored several innovative and successful family literacy projects. Three are described below.


Beginning With Books

Into the children’s room of a branch library burst lively boys, ages 7, 8, and 9, and their youthful mother. Alex’s face lights up as he catches sight of a tall, grinning man across the room, the volunteer who has been his reading partner for 2 years. John’s response to his volunteer reader is more restrained, but he soon is happily choosing books from the shelves for tonight’s READ TOGETHER time. Thomas, the youngest, stops to pet the live rabbit by the librarian’s desk. But when a third volunteer, his reader, pulls a copy of Zelinsky’s Rumplestiltskin out of her canvas bag, he is happy to settle down and listen to the story, one of his favorites. Once the boys are occupied, their mother goes to another part of the library to meet with her literacy tutor for 90 minutes. This scenario has been repeated twice a week for 3½ years. The mother had enrolled in an adult literacy program, in part to be able to help her boys with their schoolwork, but before READ TOGETHER was established by Beginning with Books in 1987, her frequent cancellations of tutoring sessions had led one tutor to quit. Now that she can bring her boys with her and knows that they are having valuable experiences with books and literacy-related activities, she rarely misses a session. “My boys won’t let me cancel,” she says, laughing. “They’re always asking me, ‘Is today liberry day?’” Her own reading skills are rapidly improving, her tutor reports, and her sons, two of whom had repeated first grade, are now all enthusiastic readers. The oldest son’s volunteer reported that at one session, when he suggested they play a game, Alex kept saying, “Just one more story.”


Another mother has been bringing her son and daughter, now 6 and 4, and her 8-year-old niece to READ TOGETHER for 2 years. The data analyst Air Force Reserve captain who reads to the niece marvels over the improved language skills of the formerly withdrawn child. The mother reports that the 6-year-old has cracked the literacy code. “We used to spell things we didn’t want him to understand,” she recently said. “Can’t do that anymore. He figures out the words.” At a party for READ TOGETHER families and volunteers held in the library’s community room, her younger child ignored the cake and entertainment and instead kept urging her volunteer to take her across the hall to the children’s room so they could read stories.


Gift Book Program

The initial goal of the Gift Book Program was to get the very best children’s books into the hands of parents of babies, toddlers, and preschoolers—parents who had little money to spend on books and were unlikely to visit book-stores or libraries—and to give them the facts about the importance of reading to children. The decision was made to work through an agency that was already serving such families and so the county health department, whose well-baby clinics provide free health care to many families of extremely limited means, was selected. A grant in 1984 from the Pennsylvania Humanities Council, matched by local foundations, allowed the program to reach 1,000 families in the clinics with packets of four first-quality picture books and individual counseling on reading to children. Parents were also urged to borrow books from the public library. A six-month follow-up survey of 394 families showed a significant increase reported in time spent reading to children (the number reporting daily read-aloud sessions rose 22% as compared to a pre-program questionnaire) and in time spent by children looking at books alone (56% were reported as looking at books several times a day, up from 21% before receiving the books). Library use remained miniscule among this population, however. More than a few, when answering the question “Do you borrow library books for your children?” replied, “No, we have our own books.” As a result, the gift packet was modified to contain three books and an attractive coupon to be redeemed for a fourth book at any branch of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. In addition to the Health Department, the program now works with homeless shelters, a food bank, day care centers, Head Starts, teen parenting programs, and other agencies that serve low income families. An evaluation study that compared a small group of kindergarten children who had received book packets at the age of one with a matched control group showed that children who had received the books were now more likely to ask their parents to read to them every day (81% vs. 64% of the control group), and their parents were more likely to do so (55% vs. 21%). The study concluded that participants provided more literacy experiences in the home for their children, visited the library more often, and provided more reading materials. Moreover, the children whose parents had received the gift packet were perceived by their teachers as having higher reading ability than children of parents who did not receive the packet.


Raising Readers

A different model of family literacy programming is supplied by Raising Readers Parent Clubs, run by Beginning with Books. At each weekly club meeting, members receive an appealing book (usually hardcover) and are encouraged to spend 15 minutes a day or more reading to their children. The why, how, and what of reading aloud are discussed, with the parents learning from each other as well as from the group leader. The new book is always read aloud, which increases the confidence of those with poor reading skills, and a typical read-aloud session with a preschooler is modeled. No rigid formula or list of do’s or don’ts is presented. Instead, parents are urged to be responsive to their children’s reactions. The clubs usually meet in schools, community agencies, day care centers, libraries, and at many other sites. When the group meets in a library, a tour of the children’s room is arranged for the first meeting. Parents eagerly sign up for library cards after the tour, and most take home each week not only the gift book, but also library books that have been displayed and described at the club meeting.


Here are a few additional suggestions for educators, many of them developed and used successfully by teachers:

  Distribute packets of appealing paperback storybooks at kindergarten orientation or at parent conferences and share with parents information on how regular listening to stories benefits their children. If publicized in advance, the packets will serve as an incentive for parents to come out for these important meetings.


  Recruit high school volunteers to read to children in the school library during parent meetings. This free child care and enrichment will improve parent attendance. Ask a teacher or librarian knowledgeable about sure-fire children’s books to conduct a training session for the volunteers on the basics of reading aloud and choosing appropriate books.


More information about the Beginning with Books program can be found at and in these articles:


Friedberg, J. B. (1989). Making today’s toddler tomorrow’s reader. Young

Children, 44, 13–16.

Friedberg, J. B., & Segel, E. (1990). The land where the wild things are:

Programs of Beginning with Books. United States Board on Books

for Young People Newsletter, 15, 26–27.

Jongsma, K. S. (1990). Intergenerational literacy. The Reading Teacher,

43, 522–523.

Locke, J. L. (1988). Pittsburgh’s Beginning with Books project. School

Library Journal, 34(6), 22–24

McIvor, M. C. (Ed.). (1990). Family literacy in action: A survey of successful

programs. Syracuse, NY: New Readers Press.

Segel, E. (1986). Pushing preschool literacy: Equal opportunity or cultural

imperialism? Children’s Literature Association Quarterly, 11, 59–62.

Segel, E., & Friedberg, J. B. (1991). The search for irresistible first books.

CBC Features, 44, (unpaged).

Segel, E., & Friedberg, J. B. (1991). Widening the circle: The Beginning

with Books model. The Horn Book Magazine, 67, 186–189.


From “Is Today Liberry Day?” by Elizabeth Segel and Joan Brest Friedberg in Language Arts,

Vol. 68, Dec. 1991, pp. 654–657.


Community Center Programs

Community Center programs are as various as the communities that provide them. Funding involves collaboration among many agencies and coordination of many services. Such centers become ideal sites for incorporating family literacy since adults and children are already attending.


Job Skills for Employment Purposes (Dayton)

With sponsorship from the Miami Valley Child Development Center, Dayton opened a computer laboratory for Head Start parents and community residents who want to prepare to take the GED. Called the Job Skills for Employment Purposes (J.S.E.P.), the lab uses computer software in the areas of literacy (GED prep), life skills, and job skills. Life skills provide information on the personal demands and requirements to find and keep a job. The job skills portion simulates job-training situations in order to prepare for full-time employment. Instructors offer individual assistance and recruit Head Start parents into the program. Most parents use the lab while their children are in the Head Start classes.


Early Childhood Family Education (Wayzata, Minnesota)

The mission of the Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE) Program is to promote healthy self concepts among family members through shared activities for parents and children, parent education, and support. The Family Learning Center also is the location of the office of the Learning Readiness program, which offers learning opportunities to 4-year-olds from families in need to give the children opportunities for greater success in school. ECFE classes are a semester long (about 13-14 weeks) and are designed for parents and their preschool children to interact in enjoyable, age-appropriate activities. Parent discussion time focuses on learning about the ages and stages of child development, gaining information regarding specific topics, and finding support from others in this complex area of parenting. Special events and field trips for families are also sponsored. Other ECFE services include a lending library, home visits, an information packet for parents of newborns, and collaboration with other programs (Women, Infants, and Children; Single Parent classes at the YMCA; and parenting classes with childcare held in conjunction with GED and ESL classes). In-person registration for ECFE is held in August and January on a first come-first served basis. Registration for Learning Readiness is held throughout the year on a space-available basis.

For more information call (763) 745-5200 or visit the ECFE web page at:


Parents As Teachers (PAT)

The primary goal of Parents as Teachers 

is to empower parents to give their children the best possible start in life. Parents as Teachers (PAT) is a home-school-community partnership designed to provide all parents of children (before birth to kindergarten entry) the information and support they need to give their children the best possible start in life.


Wayne County Parents as Teachers, an early-learning program for parents of children age birth through 3, is a program of Adult and Community Education. Each month, parents attend parent education get-togethers and participate in home visits. Parents as Teachers’ certified parent educators, trained in child development and home visitation, go to each family’s home on a regular basis. By far the most popular aspect of PAT, the personal visit allows the parent educator to individualize and personalize the Parents as Teachers program for each family and child. It provides the opportunity to support parents in using the child development and child rearing information specific to their own child within their own family. Parents are helped to understand what can be expected from a child at each stage of development. Appropriate parent-child learning activities are also a part of the visit. The parents’ role in their child’s literacy development is emphasized through use of appropriate children’s literature at each personal visit and group meeting. Developmental screenings, which begin at 12 months, serve two purposes: to reassure parents when the child is developing on target, and to identify problems early to assist parents with appropriate interventions. In addition, parents are encouraged to observe and monitor the child’s development on an ongoing basis. A bi-monthly newsletter contains articles of interest to parents of infants and toddlers, community events, and toddler book reviews from local libraries. Twice monthly the weekly Drop-in-and-Play Group becomes a “theme party” for moms and little ones, with toddler literacy activities highlighted. Collaboration with the Health Department adds a nutrition component to the party and allows it to count as an education meeting for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) moms.

For further information call 330.263.8960.


Even Start Programs

Even Start 

Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, Title I, Part B, subpart 3, P.L. 107-110 as reauthorized by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.


Projects provide for early childhood education, adult literacy (adult basic and secondary-level education and instruction for English language learners), parenting education, and interactive parent-child literacy activities for participating families, often through partners, such as government agencies, colleges and universities, public schools, Head Start programs, and other public and private community-based groups. Projects operate year-round and provide staff training and support services such as child care and transportation, when unavailable from other sources, to enable participation in core education activities. These activities include basic education for children from birth to kindergarten, supplementary education for school-age children through age 7, and basic and secondary education for parents of those children.


Six percent of the annual appropriation is set aside for family literacy grants for migratory worker families, the outlying areas, Indian tribes and tribal organizations. In addition, the Department must award one project in a women's prison. Up to 3 percent is reserved for national evaluation and technical assistance. The remaining federal funds are allocated by formula to states, based on their relative shares of Title I, Part A, funds. State education agencies make competitive subgrants to partnerships of local education agencies and other organizations, giving priority to proposals that primarily target areas with large numbers of most-in-need families or to projects located in empowerment zones or enterprise communities. The statute also requires that subgrants be equitably distributed among urban and rural areas and that local projects assume an increasing share of program costs each year.

For more information, see:


Two different models are described below.


The goal of Canton City Schools' Even Start program is to break the intergenerational cycles of poverty and under-education through an integrated approach focusing on (1) improving basic literacy, numeracy, and employability skills of parents; (2) promoting children's developmental growth through early childhood education; and (3) empowering parents to promote their child(ren)'s cognitive, social/emotional, language, and physical development. Families come to school together at their neighborhood elementary schools. Parents ride school buses or are given passes for the city bus service when necessary. The adults attend 30 hours a week in their own classrooms within the elementary buildings. Public preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds is also located within the elementary buildings. Neighborhood child care centers transport children under age 3 to and from the schools and provide developmentally appropriate programming for these children. Canton's Even Start program is built on existing school district and community resources. The school district's community education department provides career assessment and academic/workforce development education. Title I provides enhancement of services for the children and parent/child learning activities from the Parent Resource Center. The Department of Job and Family Services assists with recruitment of families and funds child care and wrap-around care for children under age 3. The local newspaper donates free papers for learning activities. Community business partners help motivate students, fund incentives and awards, and provide shadowing opportunities for parents to explore careers. Students from Malone College acquire field experience hours while assisting in Even Start classrooms. Columbia Mercy Medical Center provides health screenings and information and is the host site for job shadowing experience. The Ohio State Extension Service provides nutrition and homemaking lessons.


In response to welfare reform, Canton's Even Start is focusing on work-based education. In Ohio, welfare recipients must participate 30 hours weekly. The first 20 hours must be work or job readiness activities. The remaining 10 hours may be additional work or adult education. Parents participate in real work experiences in and around the elementary school’s community. The development of SCANS (Secretary’s Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills; (see skills is emphasized during these work experiences. Academic skills are taught in context, as they are needed for the students to fulfill their roles as parent, worker, and community member. As parents acquire new skills in one role they learn to apply them in other roles; for example, parents improve communication skills within their family and transfer these new skills to the workplace. Because the primary work sites are their children's schools, parenting and PACT are easily integrated into work experiences.


Each student develops an Individual Career Plan, which identifies a realistic initial job, future career goals, and a plan for reaching those goals. The process begins with a 10-hour career assessment done by Canton City Schools Adult Vocational Education Department and funded by DJFS. The work-based learning activities and career development activities including mentoring, job shadowing, career exploration, and development of a career passport, are all designed to assist the student in preparing to attain and maintain the initial employment.


Parenting is an important program component. Locating the adult class in the elementary school helps the parents, who may have negative memories from their own school days, become comfortable in the school setting. The parents provide positive role models for their children who see them attending school each day, doing homework, and reading. The children also benefit as their parents become more involved at their school. Each parent contacts his/her child's teacher to see what concepts need to be reinforced at home. Before the parents leave class, they use classroom parenting resources to plan a short activity to do with their child that evening, thus promoting positive parent/child interaction and helping the child succeed at school.

For more information call 330-438-2559 or go to:


Northwest Even Start serves families in the Northwest School District in Scioto County in southern Ohio. The program is offered in collaboration with several agencies: Northwest Local Schools, Northwest Adult Basic and Literacy Education (ABLE), Scioto County Head Start, Scioto County Early Childhood Program (serving special needs children), OSU County Extension Office, Scioto County Department of Job and Family Services, and others.


Northwest Even Start serves approximately 40 families per year. Classes are offered 2 days per week, 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., at the Northwest Family Resource Center (NFRC). Children attend early childhood classes (Head Start, Even Start, or Preschool Program) while their parents attend adult education (Northwest ABLE) classes. Parents also participate in parenting education and spend time playing and working with their children. Because Northwest School District is a large rural district with no public transportation, Northwest Even Start once offered classes through a mobile classroom: a 34-foot RV, which had both an adult and an early childhood classroom. Families seldom had to travel more than one mile to receive services. All families receive monthly home visits from the parent educator. From August through May, field trips and group meetings are important parts of the program. During the summer months, the staff meets with families twice per month. The summer program consists of home visits, special group activities, and field trips.

Call 740-372-2812 for more information.


Title I

Before 1994, Title I was used primarily for pull-out programs and math and reading remediation for children attending high-poverty-level schools. After 1994,

“schoolwide” Title I programs were combined with other federal educational

funds to upgrade the school’s entire educational program and to promote parent involvement. Title I funds may be used for children from preschool age to high school, but most of the students served (65 percent) are in grades 1 through 6; another 12 percent are in preschool and kindergarten programs. Title I funds can also be used to extend family literacy services to any child in a school, regardless of age. Currently, Title I includes both schoolwide and targeted assistance programs.  Special committees (including parents) decide how the Title I budget will be spent in a particular school. As a result, the emphasis of Title I has changed from one of remediation to prevention, thereby encouraging the funding of preschool programs and stressing the role of the parent in a child’s education.


To read more about Title I visit


For more information on Title I Part A go to


While some of the programs described below may no longer be in existence, they serve as examples of the innovative ways Title I funds can be used.


At Barr Elementary School in Canton, Title I funds are used to operate a

preschool for children ages 3 to 5 and all-day kindergarten. The developmental preschool serves both children with special needs and children who qualify according to low family income. The 3- to 5-year-olds attend half days either morning or afternoon. The preschool is free to parents who otherwise would not be able to afford preschool or daycare. As part of the program, parents are encouraged to participate in their child's learning. The goal is to establish a rapport with new parents who might have had a bad experience with schools. Teachers stay in close contact with parents and stress involvement in their child's learning. A weekly newsletter is sent home with the children so that parents know what they're learning in the classroom. Activities are sent home for children to do with their parents. Parents are invited into the classroom for other activities throughout the year, such as the "Teddy Bear Tea." Telephones are available in the classroom so that parents can reach the teachers or children at any time. Teachers and parents discuss developmental milestones. In addition, the program offers two home visits a year, which also alert staff to families who may need more services. Also, an assessment at the beginning of the school year determines what other needs the family may have (e.g., ABLE for parents, medical needs). The extended day developmental kindergarten serves children who have been identified with developmental delays. Parents bring their children in for assessment before the school year begins, and children are placed according to their developmental levels. The goal is to enable children to catch up with their peers by the time they reach first grade. The morning curriculum in the developmental kindergarten stresses motor skills. Then, for those who need it, the afternoon session includes an intensive language arts curriculum. The parents are urged to become as involved as possible in the program. The school holds family events, such as Family Math Night. Calendars and newsletters are sent home to let the parents know what's going on at the school. This program, by itself or combined with other preschool programs, is very successful at enabling children to work at grade level by the first grade.


Parent and Child Day in the Silver St. Elementary preschool classroom in Marion, Ohio is designed to provide parents and children with a unique educational experience. The day’s schedule includes a variety of activities for preschoolers and their parents. The day begins with a special parent-child activity. Parents converse with their children and practice various strategies to help their children think, grow, explore, and play. Some of the activities include playing games, reading books, making books, doing art projects, decorating pumpkins, making gingerbread houses, singing songs, going on “treasure" hunts, and eating snacks. Each year several field trips are planned to the local library, Y.M.C.A., neighborhood parks, Columbus Zoo, and COSI. After the parent and child activity, the children spend the rest of the day participating in the regular preschool activities. The parents attend a parenting class that lasts about 45 minutes. They discuss discipline, child development, readiness for school, learning styles, school curriculum, and anything else that might be of interest to the group. Occasionally, guests speak to the parents about a range of topics from positive ways to discipline children to making healthy, creative snacks. Parents receive take-home literature (brochures, parent magazines, and pamphlets) about the topics. Also, every week parents receive a new book to take home and share with their children. During the remaining 2 hours of the day, parents can participate in an educational class of their own or do volunteer work in the school. Basic literacy instruction is available for those who want to improve their reading and writing skills. For those who have not graduated from high school, GED preparation is offered. Some parents use this time to pursue other academic interests. For example, some parents come to brush up on skills to be better able to help their children with homework. Others use the time to become better prepared to begin various job training programs and classes. Parents who do not attend the adult education option can participate in volunteer activities for the preschool classroom or school. Parents can work in the office, help in the classroom, or assist in many other

projects throughout the school where volunteer help is much appreciated.


Springfield City Schools Title I Parent Resource Center provides comprehensive

services and resources to support participation, address parenting issues, and encourage self improvement. The school-family partnership is strengthened through offerings which include:

  a sense of ‘place’ so that families know they are welcome and expected to be active participants in the education of their children

  a lending library so that families have access to reading materials to use in the home

  teacher-designed games in reading, language arts, and math that families request, keep, and play with their children to reinforce skills and concepts that have been taught in the classroom

  self-help pamphlets and brochures on parenting and involvement in their children’s education

  scheduled workshops so parents can share and learn strategies for effective parenting

  field trips with their children to actively engage in learning experiences together

  referral services to connect families with other school and community programs to meet their needs.

Through collaboration, the Center also serves as both a place and a resource for transitional programming and activities to assist families as the children prepare to enter kindergarten. So that Title I families can access and thereby benefit from existing services, practically all Center services and programs are available at children’s schools. This is made possible by administrators, teachers, home-school facilitators, and family/community volunteers who recognize that parental presence, support, and active engagement are essential to a positive and dynamic educational environment.


At Buhrer Elementary, a schoolwide Title I program in Cleveland, teachers hold parent conferences off-campus in places that are closer to families’ homes. The school also sponsors Block Parent Meetings for families who cannot attend school events because they live on the outskirts of the community and lack transportation. Block meetings, which are scheduled every 2 to 3 months in a parent’s home or a nearby library, address parent concerns and offer an opportunity to share school-related information. Attendance is typically 18 to 20 parents. The principal reports a continuing increase in parental attendance at school functions since the program began.


Teachers, administrators, and the Title I coordinators of the Kirby Road Primary School in Cincinnati developed an innovative parent involvement program that won an Ohio’s Best Practices Award. They wanted to overcome parents’ beliefs that they were not in full partnership with their children’s teachers and to dispel parents’ feelings of unfamiliarity with new methods and technology. The parent involvement program includes five ongoing activities.

*      The very successful Kirby Readers Book Loan Club is managed by the parent coordinator. The books are purchased with Title I funds with the primary goal of offering quality children's literature for students to borrow for use at home. Students can select books at their own independent reading levels. Parents sign a contract to enroll their child and read at home with their child. They often visit the parent center to select books. Classroom teachers encourage students to join the club by establishing reading requirements and offering incentives for completion of books. After completing a book, club members enter the title and date in a log. Once the log is filled with titles, each student receives a prize. Monthly flyers sent home with first-grade and second-grade students invite parents to visit the school and to spend quality time with their children. Students are eager to share a favorite book with parents. After reading, they share refreshments. Door prizes are given away to lucky students.

*      The homework club meets 2 days a week and gives students extra help and reinforcement of new concepts presented in class. Four instructional assistants meet with students on Tuesdays and Wednesdays for 1 hour after school. A classroom teacher coordinates the club, monitors attendance, and orders supplies and other resources. Parents review completed homework, sign the assignments, and provide encouragement.

*      Technology classes for parents and students are used to enhance parental involvement in the school and to expose parents to new modes of learning. Monthly flyers advertise the after-school technology classes for parents and children. Parents get basic training in word processing while students work on developmentally appropriate word processing programs. Also, parents borrow donated computers for use at home.

*      Parent discussion groups are coordinated by the building principal. Parents were surveyed for specific topics of interest. The principal researches selected topics and plans a brief presentation before opening the meeting for discussion. The meetings are held in the early evenings, and parents are notified via flyers and telephone invitations.


Targeted, at-risk, first and second grade students at Westview Elementary School in Zanesville receive reading/language arts instruction in a unique Title I inclusion program entitled Partners in Literacy (PIL). This program unites the local community in sharing with parents and schools the responsibility for educating their children in the areas of reading and writing. Each day during the hour block for language arts instruction, two parent/ grandparent volunteers arrive at the classroom. Those with jobs have requested that their employers schedule their lunch time during their volunteer time, so they are able to participate regularly. Others make up their volunteer time at the end of their work days. The volunteers are trained by the Title I reading teacher and classroom teachers in the evening. A list of trained substitute parent volunteers is distributed so that volunteers can arrange for substitutes in cases of emergencies. The students in each classroom are divided into four instructional groups while the volunteers are present. The classroom teacher works with one group of students, and the Title I teacher works with an at-risk group. A third group works with the “homework” volunteer, who listens to each child read the book in which teacher instruction was given on the previous day. The volunteer records any significant information and checks to see that reading and writing homework assignments are completed. The fourth group is at a listening center in which quality literature has been recorded (often by a student or parent volunteer). The

volunteer at this center calls one student at a time to work on his/her designated sight-word list. The parent volunteers exchange groups at 15-minute intervals, eventually working with all four groups. The classroom teacher gives guided reading and composition instruction to two groups in 30-minute intervals while the Title I reading teacher does likewise with two groups of at-risk students. At the end of the hour session, a parent volunteer announces and gives a star reward ticket to an “All-Star Reader,” a student that put forth great effort and was cooperative and respectful. In exchange, the entire class thanks the volunteers for their dedication and assistance. The partnership of parents, Title I teacher, classroom teacher, and students has enhanced, enriched, and reinforced learning for all students in a positive, engaging, and motivating atmosphere. Ohio University and Muskingum College frequently send students preparing to be teachers to observe, teach, and learn in this collaborative setting. This Title I team-based innovation involves parents in a responsible meaningful way, which promotes ownership of literacy education.


Family Literacy in ABLE

Adult Basic and Literary Education (ABLE), operated with state and federal funds, offers classes to adults who want to improve their basic reading, writing, and math skills and who want to prepare for their GED. Some ABLE programs have expanded to include family literacy activities.


Sponsored by ABLE in Sandusky, the ACT Program (Adult and Child Together) offers free summer learning camps. Adults and children (ages 6-11) enroll in one of the following: Computer Camp allows experience with basic word processing and calculation; Math Camp provides hands-on activities in addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division; Science Camp introduces simple concepts through discovery activities; Food Camp stresses good eating habits and healthy snacks; and English Speaking Camp focuses on practical conversation for home, meals, and shopping.


Washington Local ABLE in Toledo offers a Kindergarten Readiness Program for 4- and 5-year-olds and their parents. The free classes are offered once each semester with 90- minute sessions on six consecutive Saturdays. The series is designed to introduce children to a school environment and help them prepare for kindergarten. The program focuses on small and large motor control, math and reading readiness, and social development. As a part of each class, the child selects an activity to complete with his or her parent. Parents complete a kindergarten readiness survey at the first and last meeting in order to monitor their children's progress in school readiness. Parents also enjoy the time they spend with their children. The classes provide an opportunity to see how their children interact with other children and adults.


Family Literacy in Head Start


Head Start and Early Start

Head Start and Early Head Start are comprehensive child development programs for children from birth to age 5, pregnant women, and their families. They are child-focused programs and have the overall goal of increasing the school readiness of young children in low-income families. The Head Start grantee and delegate agencies provide a range of individualized services in the areas of education and early childhood development; medical, dental, and mental health; nutrition; and parent involvement. In addition, the entire range of Head Start services is responsive and appropriate to each child's and family's developmental, ethnic, cultural, and linguistic heritage and experience.


Administered by the Department of Job and Family Services, the Head Start Program has provided comprehensive child-development services to low-income families since 1964. Since 1984, a special emphasis has been placed on promoting literacy and basic education for the parents and children in the program. Since 1992, the Head Start Family Literacy Initiative has called upon every grantee to recognize family literacy as a priority. Head Start’s Promotion of Family Literacy serves three basic roles:

(1)    Increasing the Head Start families’ access to materials, activities, and services essential to family literacy development (e.g., acquiring children’s books for the home, and promoting family participation in a story hour for young children at a neighborhood center);

(2)    Supporting parents in the role of being their child’s first teacher by providing the encouragement and specific direction to Head Start families; and

(3)    Assisting parents as adult learners to recognize and address their own literacy needs.


Adapted from Promoting Family Literacy Through Head Start, published by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children, Youth and Families.

For more information on Head Start visit

or the National Head Start Association



Books, paper, pencils, backpacks, and Bookmobiles are some of the services, items, and materials that are used as tools to promote literacy in the Council on Rural Service Programs’ Head Start classrooms. Many activities support the literacy focus. Librarians read to the children in some classrooms throughout an eight-county service area, and the Bookmobile makes a regular monthly stop at others. On field trips to local libraries, the children listen to stories and select books to take back to the classroom. Dictated follow-ups are another part of the field trip experience. Favorite classroom recipes are often written on large sheets of paper and posted nearby the activity area to enhance the cooking experience.


As part of the Reading is Fundamental (RIF) Program, children take books home several times throughout the year. Every classroom has a quiet area with a wide variety of books. Carpet, bean bag chairs, and pillows invite the young reader. Books are also often found in other areas of the classroom, e.g., about trucks in the block and truck area, phone and recipe books in the dramatic play and housekeeping areas. The listening center contains a tape recorder, headphones, and books with corresponding tapes. Reading to the children is part of the everyday routine and takes place at circle time as well as spontaneous times throughout the day. Writing centers encourage the children to use paper and pencils to begin the first steps towards writing. Other materials in the writing center include markers, tablets, rulers, stamp pads and stamps, hole punchers, hole reinforcements, old typewriters, letter and number stencils, and an abundance of paper. Children take home a writing backpack filled with materials such as paper, pencils, markers, glue, staplers, scissors, yarn, old magazines, and so forth. The backpacks contain a letter to parents suggesting ideas for working with their children on a project. Teachers encourage parents to offer feedback about the family projects. The children share the stories and books that are the result. Some classrooms have established a lending library. Teachers often invite guest readers to the classrooms so children hear and see other people reading. Some of the guests have been the mayor, the fire chief, the D.A.R.E. officer, and a large number of parents. The Head Start home visitor encourages parents to read to their children and visit the local library. For additional information, contact: 



Council on Rural Service Programs

Central Office
Miami County

201 RM Davis Parkway Suite B
Piqua, Ohio 45356
Phone: 937.778.5220
Fax: 937.778.8970


RSVP & Gateway Programs
Darke County

116 East 3rd.
Greenville, Ohio 45331
Phone: 937.548.8002
Fax: 937.548.2664



Chapter 2 - Who's Doing Family Literacy


The agencies and organizations in this annotated "directory of directories" provide services that enable family literacy programs to function smoothly. Some are family literacy providers and funders like Even Start and Parents As Teachers. Some contribute information for a single component of a program like the national standards developed by Equipped For the Future or the training in collaboration developed by For the Common Good.


The lists may be used in many ways. In addition to containing information on family literacy programming, the lists may suggest potential collaborators who serve similar populations or have similar service goals. Other organizations like Special Education Centers may offer specialized professional training for a family literacy staff. The majority of the agencies in this chapter have websites that you can explore for more information or to get current contact information. The web addresses are included as part of the information about the agency.


The chapter is divided into two sections: "National" and "Ohio."


Note: If you have information, especially at the local level, to add to future supplements of The Family Literacy Resource Notebook, please contact The Ohio Literacy Resource Center 1‑800‑ 765‑2897; Research I Bldg., 1100 Summit St., PO Box 5190, Kent State University, Kent, OH 44242;




National Organizations


U.S. Government Offices


U.S. Dept. Of Education

The home page of the vast site for the U.S. DOE with links to vocational and adult education; information about legislation, statistics, grants, budgets, research reports, evaluation, and noteworthy practices can be found here.

600 Independence Ave., SW

Washington, DC 20202‑7240


Office of Vocational and Adult Education

Phone: (202) 205‑5451, Fax: (202) 205‑8748


The Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE)

This office includes program offices that provide financial assistance to state and local educational agencies for maintenance and improvement of both public and private preschool, elementary, and secondary education. For more information about any of these programs, see


Even Start

Even Start is a federally-funded family literacy program administered by states to improve the educational opportunities of low-income families.

For more information, see

Even Start Family Literacy Program

Visit the archived text of the 1998 National Evaluation of the Even Start Family Literacy Program.

600 Independence Avenue, SW

Washington, DC 20202

Phone: (202) 260-0991, Fax: (202) 260-7764


Head Start

Head Start and Early Head Start are comprehensive child development programs for children from birth to age 5, pregnant women, and their families.

For more information about the Head Start Program visit


Title I  Part A of the Elementary  and Secondary  Education Act 

This program provides financial assistance through State educational agencies (SEAs) to local educational agencies (LEAs) and public schools with high numbers or percentages of poor children to help ensure that all children meet challenging State academic content and student academic achievement standards.

For more information on Title I Part A go to



Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI)

The OERI functions of research, statistics, best practices and models has been incorporated into The Institute of Education Sciences (IES); however, information archived before 11/5/02 can be found on this site.

U.S. Department of Education

555 New Jersey Ave, NW

Washington, DC 20208


Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Programs

Concerned with identification and early intervention, the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Programs provides support for individuals, parents, and school districts in the areas of special and vocational education and research.

U.S. Department of Education

600 Independence Ave, SW

Switzer Building, Room 4613

Washington, DC 20202


Partnership for Family Involvement in Education

The Partnership for Family Involvement in Education addresses issues, provides information, expands professional development, and offers opportunities for sharing and networking.

U.S. Dept. of Education Information Resource Center


U.S. Dept. of Labor

The U.S. Department of Labor site contains information on job training, employment, and the labor market.

200 Constitution Ave., NW, Rm. N5637

Washington, DC 20210

Office of Research and Demonstration

Phone: (202) 219‑7674, Fax: (202) 219‑5455





U. S. Department of Health and Human Services


Administration for Children and Families

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) is a federal agency funding state, territory, local, and tribal organizations to provide family assistance (welfare), child support, child care, Head Start, child welfare, and other programs relating to children and families.


Child Care Bureau

The Child Care Bureau enhances the quality, affordability and availability of child care for all families.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Administration for Children and Families

Office of Public Affairs

370 L'Enfant Promenade, SW

Washington, DC 20202


Head Start Bureau

Head Start promotes the economic and social well-being of low-income, refugee, and migrant families and those with disabilities through integrated services across agency boundaries.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Administration for Children and Families

Office of Public Affairs

370 L’Enfant Promenade, SW

Washington, D.C. 20202



The following nongovernmental organizations and agencies are more resources for family literacy.



These are national foundations that provide grants to adult and family literacy programs.


Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy

The Barbara Bush Foundation supports the development of family literacy programs in which parents and children can read and learn together.

1002 Wisconsin Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20007

Phone: (202) 338-2006, Fax: (202) 337-6754


Dollar General Literacy Foundation

The Dollar General Literacy Foundation, which is dedicated to the advancement of literacy, provides grants to non-profit organization in their market areas.

P.O. Box 1064

Goodlettsville, TN 37072-1064

(615) 855-5201


John S. And James L. Knight Foundation

The Knight Foundation offers grants in three categories: journalism, communities served by their newspapers, and a venture fund.

2 South Biscayne Blvd., Ste. 3800

Miami, FL 33131

Phone: (305) 980‑2600, Fax: (305) 908‑2698


Kiwanis International Headquarters

A community service organization, Kiwanis supports projects benefiting children and young adults.

Program Development Division

3636 Woodview Trace

Indianapolis, IN 46268

(800) 879‑4769


Staples Foundation for Learning

The Staples Foundation funds community grassroots organization and maintains charity partnerships with national organizations to provide educational and growth opportunities.

500 Staples Drive, 4 West
Framingham, MA 01702


Starbucks Foundation

The Starbucks Foundation funds programs that promote youth leadership through the power of literacy and respect for diversity in communities where Starbuck employees live and work.

P.O. Box 3824

Seattle, WA 98134

Phone: (206) 748‑8602, Fax: (206) 447‑3028


Target Foundation

The Target Foundation provides grants to support education in areas served by Target stores.


United Way of America, Inc.

The National United Way acts as a go-between for philanthropic corporations and government, works to activate community resources, and supports welfare-to-work transition.

701 North Fairfax

Alexandria, VA 22314‑2045

Phone: (703) 836‑7112, Fax: (703) 683‑7840


The Wallace Foundation

Formerly the Reader’s Digest Foundation, the Wallace Foundation encourages learning and enrichment through educational leadership, student achievement, after-school learning, and participation in arts and culture.

Two Park Place Ave.

New York, NY 10016

Work Phone: (212) 251‑9800, Fax: (212) 679‑6990




Special Needs

These agencies provide information and resources for families who have members with special needs.


American Foundation for the Blind

Since 1921, the American Foundation for the Blind—to which Helen Keller devoted her life—has been eliminating barriers that prevent the ten million Americans who are blind or visually impaired from reaching their potential.

(800) 232-5463


International Dyslexia Association

(Formerly Orton Dyslexia Society)

The International Dyslexia Association provides information to help individuals, families, and communities and facilitates an online forum for discussion.

8600 LaSalle Rd., Ste. 382

Baltimore, MD 21286

Phone: (800) 222‑3123, Fax: (410) 321‑5069


Learning Disabilities Association of America

Both professionals and families benefit from the research, advocacy, teacher training, and information about disabilities disseminated by the Learning Disabilities Association of America.

4156 Library Road

Pittsburgh, PA 15234

Phone: (412) 341‑1515


National Adult Literacy & Learning Disabilities Center

The National Adult Literacy & Learning Disabilities Center’s project Bridges to Practice can be found on the National LINCS site. The Coordinated Campaign for Learning Disabilities and WETA, the PBS station in Washington, D.C. sponsors LD Online with information for parents, kids, teachers, and professionals.

LD Online

2775 South Quincy Street

Arlington, VA 22206

National Association of Developmental Disabilities Councils (NADDC)

The National Association of Developmental Disabilities Councils supports councils and provides a consumer and family-centered system of services.

1234 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Suite 103

Washington, DC 20005


National Center for Learning Disabilities

To accomplish their mission of proving opportunities for people with disabilities to succeed in school, work, and life, the National Center for Learning Disabilities advocates to protect and strengthen their rights, posts information for parents and professionals, and supports research in effective learning techniques.

381 Park Avenue South, Suite 1420

New York, NY 10016

(888) 575-7373, Fax: (212) 545-9665


The National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities (NICHCY)

NICHCY is a central source of information on: disabilities for infants, toddlers, children, youth; IDEA and No Child Left Behind legislation; statistics; and researched-based educational practices.

P.O. Box 1492

Washington, DC 20013‑1492


National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped

The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped works directly with cooperating libraries to provide such services as free Braille transcription and accessibility to music scores and instructional music.

Library of Congress

1291 Taylor Street, NW

Washington, DC 20542









Contains information on current issues and provides site guides and resources.

815 16th St., NW

Washington, DC 20006

Phone: (202) 637-5000, Fax: (202) 637-5058


Center on Education and Work

The Center on Education and Work enhances the quality of career-related learning for individuals in schools, colleges, and the workplace.

School of Education

University of Wisconsin‑ Madison

1025 West Johnson St., Rm. 964

Madison, Wisconsin 53706‑1796

Work phone: (608) 263‑3696, Alternative phone: (800) 446‑0399

Fax: (608) 262‑9197



AmeriCorps is a network of national service programs that engage more than 50,000 Americans each year in intensive service to meet critical needs in education, public safety, health, and the environment.

1201 New York Ave., NW

Washington, DC 20525

(202) 606-5000
TTY: (202) 565-2799


Corporation for National Service

The Corporation for National Service, including SeniorCorps and AmeriCorps, provides opportunities for Americans of all ages and backgrounds to participate in community service.

1201 New York Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20525




CEGA Services, Inc.

Contact Center, Inc.

CEGA Services, Inc. consult on criminal justice and human services nationally and internationally.

P.O. Box 81826

3900 Industrial Ave., N

Lincoln, NE 68501

Phone: (402) 464‑0602, Fax: (402) 464‑5931


Correctional Education Association (CEA)

CEA is a professional organization for educators and administrators who provide services to students in a correctional setting.

8025 Laurel Lakes Court

Laurel, MI 20702


American Bar Association

The American Bar Association site includes information on law education, initiatives to improve legal services, and resources for the public.

740 l5th St., NW, 11th Fl.

Washington, DC 20005

(202) 662‑1024, Fax: (202) 662‑1032





Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention protect health and safety by providing information, health promotion and education, and disease control.

4770 Buford Highway, MS K ‑57

Atlanta, GA 30341‑3724

(404) 488‑4744, Fax: (404) 488‑4727



National Institutes of Health

The National Institutes of Health is the steward of medical and behavioral research for the Nation. It is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Bldg. 31, Rm. l0A31

Bethesda, MD 20892‑3100

(301) 496‑6631, Fax: (301) 402‑4945





National Coalition for Parent Involvement in Education

The National Coalition for Parent Involvement in Education fosters home-school-community relationships by advocating for the participation of parents in their children’s education.

3929 Old Lee Highway, Suite 91-A
Fairfax, VA 22030-2401
(703) 359-8973, Fax: 703-359-0972


National PTA

A national non-profit child advocacy agency, National PTA encourages parent and public involvement in schools and assists parents develop skills in raising children.

330 N. Wabash, Suite 2100

Chicago, IL 60611‑3690

(312) 670‑6782, Fax: (312) 670‑6783


Parents as Teachers

The goals of the Parents as Teachers program are:

·        Increase parent knowledge of early childhood development and improve parenting practices

·        Provide early detection of developmental delays and health issues

·        Prevent child abuse and neglect

·        Increase children's school readiness and school success


Parents as Teachers is a national model, but at the same time is a local program. PAT fits as a component of larger programs such as Even Start, Head Start, and family resource centers, or it can be the early childhood cornerstone for programs that ultimately grow into a broader array of family education and support offerings.

To find PAT programs in your area, click on "Find a Program" on their website.

(314)- -432-4330,  Fax (314) 432-8963



Parent Information and Resource Centers (PIRC)

PIRCs work closely with parents, educators and community organizations to strengthen partnerships so that children can reach high academic standards.



Adult Literacy


Adult Literacy and Technology Network

The Adult Literacy & Technology Network is a national effort dedicated to finding solutions for using technology to enhance adult literacy.


American Association for Adult & Continuing Education

The American Association for Adult and Continuing Education is dedicated to enhancing the field of adult learning.


Commission on Adult Basic Education (COABE)

COABE advances national and international adult education and literacy opportunities through leadership training, publications, and professional development.

1320 Jamesville Ave.
Syracuse, NY 13210

(315) 426-0645, Fax: (315) 422-6369


Institute for the Study of Adult Literacy

Part of the College of Education at Penn State, the Institute for the Study of Adult Literacy advances adult literacy through research and outreach to expand accessibility to literacy and works with The Goodling Institute for Research in Family Literacy on program development, instructional materials, assessment, and evaluation.

Pennsylvania State University

102 Rackley Building

University Park, PA 16801

(814) 863-3777


National Adult Education Professional Development Consortium

The National Adult Education Professional Development Consortium provides a database of outreach and technical assistance, discussions, and education information to registered members.

444 North Capitol St., NW, Ste. 706

Washington, DC 20001

(202) 624‑5250, Fax: (202) 624‑8826


National Center on Adult Literacy

The National Center on Adult Literacy in the University of Pennsylvania Department of Education, disseminates information on research, technology and distance learning, staff development and training, curriculum, and policy.

University of Pennsylvania

3910 Chestnut St.

Philadelphia, PA 19104‑3111

(215) 898‑2100, Fax: (215) 898‑9804


National Center on the Study of Adult Literacy & Learning (NCSALL)

NCSALL engages in research and professional development and disseminates publications such as Focus on Basics, Focus on Policy, and Study Circle Guides.

Nichols House, Harvard University

Graduate School of Education

Cambridge, MA 02138

(617) 496‑05l6, Fax: (617) 495‑4811



National Institute for Literacy

Federally funded, NIFL strengthens literacy across the lifespan by promoting leadership, coordinating literacy services, and disseminating information through LINCS regional centers; Partnership for Reading, Equipped for the Future, Bridges to Practice, and a Literacy Directory can be found on the site.

800 Connecticut Ave., NW, Suite 200

Washington, DC 20006‑2712

HOTLINE: 1 (800) 228‑8813

(202) 632‑1500, Fax: (202) 632‑1512


Proliteracy Worldwide

A merger of Laubach Literacy and Literacy Volunteers of America, ProLiteracy uses its unique methodology to provide training, technical assistance, and targeted local grants to support tailored programs that combine literacy with economic self-reliance, health, education, peace, human rights, and environmental sustainability projects.

1320 Jamesville Avenue
Syracuse, NY 13210

(888) 528-2224, Fax: (315) 422-6369





English Speakers of Other Languages


Center for Adult English Language Acquisition (CAELA)

CAELA works on policy and legislation issues related to adult education and literacy, promotes English language learning and academic achievement, and publishes the ELL Toolkit.

Center for Applied Linguistics

1118 22nd Street, NW

Washington, DC 20037

(202) 429-9292


National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition & Language Instruction Educational Programs (NCELA)

Under Title III of No Child Left Behind, NCELA collects analyzes, synthesizes, and disseminates information about language instruction for limited English proficient students and children.

The George Washington University
Graduate School
of Education and Human Development
2121 K St. NW  Suite 260

Washington, DC  20037
PHONE: (202) 467-0867 • (800) 321-6223
FAX: (202) 467-4283 • (800) 531-9347


Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages

Membership-only resources and conference information for Teachers of English can be found on this site.

1600 Cameron St., Ste. 300

Alexandria, VA 22314

(703) 836 0774, Fax: (703) 836‑7864





American Association of Community Colleges

The American Association of Community Colleges is the primary advocacy organization for the nation's community colleges.

One Dupont Circle, NW

Washington, DC 20036‑1176

(202) 728‑0200, Fax: (202) 833‑2467


American Association of University Women

The American Association of University Women advocates for equity for all women and girls through fellowships and grants, research, policy efforts, and diversity initiatives.

1111 Sixteenth St. N.W.
Washington, DC  20036

(800) 326-AAUW, Fax: (202) 872-1425



Early Childhood


Children's Literacy Initiative

The Children’s Literacy Initiative works to increase children’s literacy skills and to foster a love of reading through professional development for pre-K through 3rd grade teachers.

2314 Market St.

Philadelphia, PA 19103

Work Phone: (215) 561‑4676, Fax: (215) 561‑4677


Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center

The NCCIC is a national clearinghouse and technical assistance center linking parents, providers, policymakers, researchers, and the public to early childcare and education information.

301 Maple Avenue West, Suite 602

Vienna, VA 22180

(800) 616-2242, Fax: (800) 716-2242


The Sesame Workshop

The Sesame Workshop provides educational content for television, radio, books, magazines, interactive media, and outreach.

One Lincoln Plaza

New York, NY 10023

(212) 875-6088



This United Nations organization promotes health, education, equality and protection to children around the world; those affected by lack of immunizations, by HIV, and by national crises like droughts, famine, and floods benefit from programs.

3 United Nations Plaza

New York, NY 10017


Libraries and Book Programs


American Library Association (ALA)

A national study of family literacy programming in public libraries found that public libraries play a significant role in family literacy. The diverse offerings include programming for both parents and children, special collections of materials, and outreach to special populations. The study also found that libraries often provide these services in partnership with other community organizations.

Office for Library Outreach Services

50 East Huron Street

Chicago, IL 60611

(800) 545-2433


American Poetry & Literacy Project

The American Poetry & Literacy Project is a national, non-profit organization created to champion the idea that poetry should be made accessible to all Americans.

588 Broadway, Suite 604
New York, NY 10012-3210

(212) 274-0343


Books and Beyond

Books and Beyond is a reading incentive program created specifically to improve children’s attitudes toward reading and to foster a love of books.

(858) 755-3823

Fax: (858) 755-0449



Center for the Book

The Center for the Book promotes books, reading, libraries, and literacy.

Library of Congress

101 Independence Ave., SE

Washington, DC 20540‑4920

(202) 707‑5221, Fax: (202) 707‑0269


Pizza Hut's Book It! Program

Pizza Hut’s Book It Program promotes reading with pizza certificates as rewards for classes signed up for the project.

P.O. Box 2999
Wichita, KS 67201

(800) 426-6548


Reading Is Fundamental, Inc. (RIF)

A non-profit children’s literacy organization, RIF promotes interest in reading with resources for kids, parents, and educators.

1825 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Suite 400

Washington, DC 20009

(877) RIF-READ or (202) 673-0020


U.S. National Commission on Libraries & Information Science

This Commission recommends policy to the President and Congress concerning libraries and information services, statistics and surveys, and policy; the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is located here.

1110 Vermont Ave., NW, Ste. 820

Washington, DC 20005‑3522

(202) 606‑9200, Fax: (202) 606‑9203





American Council on Education

The American Council on Education is the major coordinating body for all the nation's higher education institutions.

One Dupont Circle, NW

Washington, DC 20036

(202) 939‑9300





Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC)

ERIC, recently consolidated from previous clearinghouses, manages an extensive database of journal and non-journal education literature.

(800) LET-ERIC (538-3742).


Federal Citizens’ Information Center

The Federal Citizens’ Information Center answers questions about the federal government and consumer information about recalls, scams, and frauds.

Pueblo, CO 81009





Illinois Literacy Resource Development Center

Funded through the Office of the Secretary of State, The Illinois Literacy Resource Development Center helps agencies and individuals improve literacy skills to enhance the roles of parent, worker and citizen through grants for tutor training, family literacy, and workplace literacy.

209 West Clark Street

Champaign, IL 61820

(217) 355-6068


International Reading Association

The professional organization for those teaching reading to all ages, IRA promotes advocacy and outreach internationally, nationally, and regionally.

Public Information Office

800 Barksdale Road

P.O. Box 8139

Newark, DE 19714‑8139, USA

(302) 731-1600, Fax: (302) 731-1057


Lift Missouri

Missouri’s Literacy Resource Center has on-line resources for family literacy including Show Me Family Literacy: Missouri's Guide for Establishing Family Literacy Programs.


National Alliance of Urban Literacy Coalitions

The National Alliance of Urban Literacy Coalitions, a trade association of local coalitions, functions as a clearinghouse for best practices and disseminates resources, information, and technical assistance to coalitions.

5433 Westheimer, Suite 1001
Houston, TX  77056
(888) 269-4902 Fax: (713) 961-4775


National Center for Family Literacy

The National Center for Family Literacy provides professional development, program development, promotes policy and advocacy, and sponsors the Family Literacy Alliance.

Waterfront Plaza, Suite 200

325 West Main Street

Louisville, KY 40202‑4251

(502) 584-1133, Fax: (502) 584-0172


National Governors’ Association

The National Governors’ Association promotes best educational practices to assist states in developing and implementing programs that work.

444 North Capitol St., NW, Ste. 267

Washington, DC 20001‑1572

(202) 624‑5394 Fax: (202) 624‑5313


New Readers Press

Publishes a wide variety of materials to use with adult literacy students.

Phone: (800) 448‑8878


Newspaper Association of America Foundation

The Newspaper Association of American Foundation encourages students to acquire and value information in newspapers and news media.

1921 Gallows Rd.

Vienna, VA 22182

(206) 748‑8602, Fax: (703) 620‑1265


Public Broadcasting Service

Operated by public TV stations, PBS supports lifelong learning by exploring news, history, arts, science, technology through PBS Kids, PBS Parents, PBS TeacherSource, and PBS Campus.

1320 Braddock Pl.

Alexandria, VA 22314‑1698

(703) 739‑5265, Fax: (703) 739‑7506


SER‑Jobs for Progress National, Inc.

A private, non-profit corporation, SER addresses employment and economic concerns, education, and inequities among Hispanics and other underrepresented groups in America.

1925 W. John Carpenter Fwy. #575

Irving, TX 75063

(972) 650‑1860, Fax: (972) 650‑1860

Wider Opportunities for Women

Through national and local Washington, D.C. programs, Wider Opportunities for Women helps women learn to earn in order to seek education and prepare for jobs that provide income to overcome poverty.

1001 Connecticut Avenue NW, Suite 930
Washington, DC 20036

(202) 464-1596, Fax: (202) 464-1660


Ohio Organizations


Ohio Department of Education

Listed below are the offices of the Ohio Department of Education that can provide support and resources for family literacy programs.



Center for Students, Families, and Communities

Provides leadership and oversight to the Early Education and Care Community.


Office of Early Learning and School Readiness

            This office administers programs that support the educational experiences of young children to prepare them to learn, read, and succeed in school. Programs in this office include Early Childhood Education, Early Learning Content Standards, Even Start, and Head Start.



Even Start

Because the federal requirements are general, communities develop Even Start programs to meet their unique needs. Each program is different. Because integration of components is stressed, innovative teaching and case management attracts and keeps participants.

(614) 466-0224


Coordinators of Even Start programs are an excellent source of information about family literacy. You can find contact information for Ohio Even Start coordinators at


      Head Start State Collaboration Office

The purpose of the collaboration project is to create a visible collaborative presence at the State level that can assist in the development of significant, multi-agency and public-private partnerships. The project coordinates federal, state and local policy to support an efficient, effective and coordinated early care and education system within a continuous improvement model by facilitating activities with the governor’s office, key state departments and early childhood agencies, associations and advocacy groups.

(614) 466-0224


Licensing for Preschool Programs and School-Age Child Care (SACC)

The Ohio Department of Education (ODE) and the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) are responsible for licensing preschool and school-age child (SACC) programs in Ohio.

(614) 466-0224,Fax: 614-728-2338



            Office of Literacy

            The office supports high-quality reading instruction in the classroom, literacy support and other interventions as well as the encouragement of literacy activities away from school to ensure that all Ohio students are proficient readers.

            (614) 995-2245 or (888) 644-6732



            Lau Center

            The Lau Center is a resource center for English as a Second Language, Bilingual, and Multicultural Education. The mission of the Lau Resource Center is to assure equal access to high-quality learning experiences and standards for students with limited English proficiency in the state of Ohio.





Office of Safe and Supportive Learning Environments

This office provides services, programs and products that focus on addressing student, family and community factors that improve learning climates in schools and, consequently, improve learning for all students.



Family, Community Involvement

Adult Ed: Collaborate with adult educators to develop curriculum about parent‑teacher conferences and parents' advocacy for their children's needs.

Child Ed: NA

Parent Ed: Provide information for parents who desire to know how to support their children's learning in the home and at school.

Family Rel: Provide assistance to school planning teams that work to support children's learning in the home and at school.

(614) 644-8863


The Office for Safety, Health, and Nutrition
 This office assists educators in improving the conditions for learning through a variety of child and adult nutrition programs as well as programs that contribute to positive learning environments.

(614) 466-2945, Fax: (614) 752-7613


Office for Exceptional Children

This office provides leadership, assistance, and oversight to school districts and other entities that provide differentiated instruction for students with disabilities, gifted students, and students with limited English proficiency.

(614) 466-2650, toll free:  (877) 644-6338, Fax:  (614) 752-1429




Ohio's Special Education Regional Resource Centers (SERRC)

Ohio Special Education Regional Resource Centers (SERRC) assist educators and families in the development and delivery of specially designed instruction aligned with Ohio's academic and early learning content standards. They also assist districts and agencies in complying with federal and state laws/regulations to ensure the full participation of children and youth with disabilities in the school community.

Adult Ed: Offer learning opportunities, linkages with other agencies and support groups, library and resource materials, individual problem solving opportunities, and assessment materials for ages birth to 22.

Child Ed: Offer workshops and other learning opportunities along with technical assistance to Head Start, community‑based organizations, early childhood special education programs, etc.; link with other agencies that support families; link with groups that provide other resources such as technology and materials; support parents with information, resources, and advocacy; offer technology connections including a website; offer direct assessment of children including recommendations for parents and teachers for intervention.

Parent Ed: Provide training and technical assistance along with consultation to parents of children at risk or with disabilities; link parents to parent support groups; loan books and materials to parents at no cost; work with parent advisory councils; help parents to access technology resources and/or communication devices and provide training in their use.

Family Rel: (see above ‑ note problem solving and consultation opportunities)


Center for School Finance

Includes ODE offices of Finance and Management Services, Grants Management, Simulation Data, Pupil Transportation, Fiscal Services, School Choice

(614) 387-2202, Fax:  (614) 466-8700



Office of Grants Management

The grants program provides funding programs for schools and districts for pre-defined purposes with the expectation of meeting specific service or performance standards. Grants include Adult Basic and Literacy Education and Homeless students.

(614) 752-1483, Fax:  (614) 728-1042


Center for School Improvement

This center includes ODE offices of Educational Reform, Federal Programs, Field Relations, Quality Assurance, Alternative Education, Chartered Nonpublic Schools and Non-chartered, Non-taxed schools

(614)  466-5834, Fax:  (614) 995-3869


Office of Federal Programs

This office provides leadership and technical assistance to help school districts make the best use of their personnel, fiscal, materials and training resources derived through federal programs. Included are the Homeless Children and Youth program and Title I Migrant Education.

(614) 466-4161, Fax: (614) 752-1622

Adult Ed: Support adult education programs, vocational education programs, GED prep, and Even Start.

Child Ed: Support Title I, Head Start, Public Preschool, Even Start, Preschool Special Ed., Vocational Child Care Training, and School‑Age Child Care Programs.

Parent Ed: Support Parents as Teachers, Parenting Skills Classes, Ohio's Parents for Success, Head Start, GRADS, Public Preschool, Even Start, Family Ties, and Parent Mentor programs.

      Family Rel: Support Family and Consumer Sciences programs and Head Start



Career - Technical and Adult Education

Education programs and services that prepare youth and adults for a broad range of careers that require varying levels of education, from high school, apprenticeships and postsecondary certificates to college and university degrees.


Adult Education

Long- and short-term technical skills training and educational programming targeted to labor market needs



      Adult Basic and Literacy Education (ABLE)

ABLE provides educational opportunities for adults who lack a foundation of literacy skills needed for success in their roles as citizens, workers, and family members. ABLE programs are held in public schools, learning centers, community-based centers, homeless shelters, correctional institutions, colleges, work sites, and institutions for the disabled. These programs provide free instruction in basic literacy, workplace literacy, family literacy, English as a Second Language (ESL) instruction, and preparation for the General Education Development (GED) test. Ohio's ABLE Program provides free services to persons who (a ) have less than a 12th‑grade education or its functional equivalence, and (b) are not subject to State compulsory school attendance law.

      (614) 466-5015

To find ABLE and Family Literacy programs in Ohio go to and click on “Find a Program Near You.”.


Family Literacy

Research confirms that comprehensive family literacy programs offer an effective, long-term approach to breaking the interrelated cycles of poverty and low literacy skills.



      Adult Workforce Education

This office supports labor-market driven, postsecondary education and training, including career guidance/counseling, assessment, financial aid, job placement and transitional services as well as customized training and specialized services for employers.


Family and Consumer Sciences

Adult Ed: Offer programs on a variety of topics including family life education, transitions, child care, employability skills, and displaced homemaker

Child Ed: Child care programs for teen parents.

Parent Ed: Offer parenting courses in schools; fund GRADS programs in over 80% of Ohio school districts with emphasis on parenting skills; some GRADS programs form partnerships with other programs such as Even Start and Parents as Teachers.

Family Rel: Offer family involvement activities including Grandparent Support Groups; form partnerships for parent/child interaction component.

(614) 466-3046


Other Helpful Resources on the ODE Website


In addition to the Ohio Department of Education, other departments of state government offer programs and resources that can be helpful for the providers and participants of family literacy programs in Ohio.





Ohio Department of Job and Family Services

The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services was formed by the merger of the Department of Human Services and the Bureau of Employment Services. It develops and oversees programs that provide health care, employment and economic assistance, child support, and services to families and children.

(614) 466-6282, Fax: (614) 466-2815


Family Resources

Information on ODJFS programs including adoption/kinship/foster care, child care, child support, protective services, financial assistance, health care, food stamps, and links to other sites for information on food banks, clothing, shelter and transportation.

      Office for Children and Families

The Office for Children and Families is responsible for state level administration and oversight of programs that prevent child abuse and neglect; provide services to abused/neglected children and their families (birth, foster and adoptive); license foster homes and residential facilities; license child care homes and facilities; and investigate allegations of adult abuse, neglect and exploitation.

(614) 466-1213, Fax:  (614) 466-6185


      Office of Child Support

Dedicated to improving the lives of Ohio's children by looking for ways to make the program easier, more effective, and more customer-friendly for their clients. Some of those ways are initiatives using technology to enhance how parents can make and receive payments in a safer and faster way.

      (614) 752-6561, Fax:  (614) 752-9760


Office of Family Stability

Provides customer-focused products and services to maximize the independence and productivity of Ohio's vulnerable citizens, in order to strengthen Ohio's communities. Programs include Ohio Works First, Disability Financial Assistance, Refugee Cash and Refugee Social Services, and Food Stamps.

(614) 466-4815, Fax : (614) 752-7193


Job Seeker Resources

Assistance with career counseling, education and training, researching labor market information, preparing a resume, searching job listings, assistance with finding a job, and information on unemployment compensation.


            Education and Training

Assistance is available to Ohioans as they find their first, next or better job. There are many support services offered throughout the state. Job resources, including links to Adult Basic Literacy Education and Apprenticeship Programs are available.

 Apprenticeship Program: (614) 644-0370, Fax: (614) 466-7912



Office of Workforce Development - Support Services Bureau

Within the Support Services Bureau is Workforce 411 a one-stop website for jobseekers to view job postings, find Ohio’s One-Stop offices, see “Hot Career Opportunities,” and more.


Special Assistance

            Offers help with clothing, child care, and transportation to enhance employability.



Ohio Department of Health

The Ohio Department of Health has a variety of programs to assist adults and children, some of which are listed below. For a complete listing of ODH programs go to


Bureau for Children with Medical Handicaps (BCMH)

The mission of the Bureau is to assure, through the development and support of high quality coordinated systems, that children with special health care needs and their families obtain comprehensive care and services which are family-centered, community-based, and culturally sensitive.

(614) 466-1547, Fax:  (614) 728-3616



Child and Family Health Services Program

The goal of the CFHS Grant Program is to eliminate health disparities, improve birth outcomes and

improve the health status of women, infants and children in Ohio.

(614) 466-5332, Fax: (614) 564-2433


Family Planning Services.

This office provides women’s health care and reproductive health care services to individuals as a means to exercise responsible, personal choice in determining the number and spacing of their children. These family planning clinics are the entry point into the health care system for the young and the low-income, and for many clients, these services are considered to be their primary care.


Child and Adolescent Health

The goals of this office are to improve access to child and adolescent health care services, improve childhood immunization rates, reduce childhood lead poisoning, reduce the percentage of children who are overweight, ensure that social/emotional health needs of children and adolescents are met, and reduce the rate of infant mortality.


            Ohio Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program

This program provides funding, public and professional education, public health lead investigations, case management, data collection and analysis. The program addresses the needs of lead-poisoned children from birth through 72 months of age. The program assists family members, medical care providers and other community members to reduce and prevent lead poisoning. Greatest emphasis is placed upon children from birth through age 36 months.

(614) 728-9454, Fax: (614) 728-6793


Child Passenger Safety Program

The statewide Child Passenger Safety Program provides child safety seats to eligible low income families in all Ohio counties targeting the high risk population of children aged birth to 8 years old. The overall goal of this program is to increase the availability of child safety seats for needy families in all Ohio counties and increase the educational efforts on the proper use and correct installation of child safety seats.

(800) 755-GROW(4769), Fax: (614) 644-7740



Children Injury Prevention Program

The health department funds 20 local health department programs designed to prevent childhood injuries. These community projects focus on promoting behavioral changes targeting high risk populations, enhancing educational efforts and increasing the use of safety devices to protect children such as child safety seats, bike helmets and smoke detectors.

(614) 466-2144, Fax: (614) 644-7740



Dental Health Program

This program provides information and resources including free educational materials to promote good oral health for families with young children.


Early Intervention Programs – Help Me Grow

Help Me Grow provides prenatal services and newborn home visits along with information about child development. The program helps families with young children connect with resources they need. The program provides service coordination and ongoing specialized services to those families that are eligible. Help Me Grow also provides services to children birth through age 3 with disabilities so that children have access to and receive needed intervention services. Help Me Grow provides Ohioans with a number of helpful information packets.

(614) 644-8389


Healthy Child Care Ohio Program

This is a collaborative effort of health care professionals, child care providers and families working in partnership to improve the health of children in child care settings. The campaign is based on the principle that families and child care providers can promote the healthy development of young children in child care and increase access to comprehensive and coordinated health care services.

(614) 644-8389, Fax: (614) 728-9163


Immunization Programs

The goal of ODH's Immunization Program is to reduce and eliminate vaccine-preventable diseases including hepatitis, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, invasive Hib disease, polio, measles, mumps, rubella, varicella, and influenza among the state's adults and children. The program offers technical support and education, administers grant funds to improve immunization levels, and provides a variety of vaccines to local health departments and physician offices free of charge.

(614) 466-4643, (800) 282-0546 (Ohio only), Fax: (614) 728-4279



Medical Specialty Clinic Program for Children

The Specialty Clinic Program provides access to pediatric specialists for children in medically underserved areas of Ohio. Children are pre-screened or referred to determine if they are in need of a specialist's services. Clinics are typically held in local county/city health departments; however some may be held in speech and hearing centers, rehabilitation centers or hospitals.

(614) 466-5332, Fax: (614) 728-6793


Women's Health Program

The purpose is to improve the health status of Ohio women. The main objectives are to: identify issues that affect women's health, develop and implement programs to address the identified issues, serve as a source of information regarding women's health, and act as an advocate for women's health concerns within state government and throughout the state.


Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)

WIC helps eligible pregnant and breastfeeding women, women who recently had a baby, infants, and children to age 5 who are at health risk due to inadequate nutrition or due to a medical condition. WIC provides nutrition education; breastfeeding education and support; supplemental, highly nutritious foods; referral to prenatal and pediatric health care and other maternal and child health and human service programs (examples: Head Start, Medicaid, and Food Stamps).

(614) 644-8006, Fax: (614) 564-2470



Department of Aging

The Ohio Department of Aging serves more than 2 million older Ohioans and helps mature adults live active, healthy and independent lives through a variety of programs.

Adult Ed: STARS program (Seniors Teaching and Reading to Students), AAA program (Area Agencies on Aging) provides nutrition and counseling services to elderly (perhaps grandparents who provide care for young children).

Child Ed: STARS program provides volunteers as tutors/mentors to elementary school children.

Parent Ed: AAA program could provide multiple services for grand-parents who care for young children.

Family Rel: NA

(800) 266-4346


Dept. of Alcohol & Drug Addiction Services (ODADAS)

ODADAS plans, initiates and coordinates an extensive system of services designed to prevent substance abuse and treat Ohio’s addicted populations. The Department coordinates the alcohol and other drug services of state departments, the criminal justice system, law enforcement, the legislature, local programs and treatment/ prevention professionals.

Adult Ed: Offer conferences and workshops, Ohio Violence Prevention Process, Drug‑Free Workplace Program, Drugs Don't Work in Ohio.

Child Ed: Drug‑free programs funded for preschools, Head Start, Ohio Violence Prevention Program, community centers, DARE, youth mentoring programs, and television broadcasting.

Parent Ed: Offer parent component to Safe & Drug‑Free School Grants for Head Start, DARE, community centers, Ohio Violence Prevention Program, youth mentoring programs, teen pregnancy prevention programs; have funds for television programs, residential programming and facilities.

Family Rel: Offer Employee Assistance Programs, television programs, workshops, and trainings.

(800) 788-7254


Department of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities (MR/DD)

The Ohio Department of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities (ODMRDD) is responsible for overseeing a statewide system of supports and services for people with mental retardation or other developmental disabilities and their families.

Adult Ed: Offer ABLE Set‑Aside Grant in Developmental Centers, work training programs, staff development trainings (including such topics as team training, collaboration, leadership skills, how to involve families, family support, general disabilities issues, and self determination issues).

Child Ed: Offer Early Intervention and Preschool components at county level, Foster Grandparent Program, and Medicaid funding.

Parent Ed: Offer parent component to Early Intervention and Preschool component at county level, Family Resources Services Program at county level, training and technical assistance.

Family Rel: Offer Project Capable at county level; have developed a family‑centered planning process.




Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections

This department oversees prisons and jails, partners with communities to promote citizen safety and victim reparation, and works to rehabilitate prisoners.

      Adult Ed: Offers ABLE classes, GED prep, Literacy Unit/Tutor Training, vocational training, apprenticeship training, high school options, Title I, special education classes, library services, parenting classes, pre‑natal classes, displaced homemaker classes, single parenting classes, Project Learn.

Child Ed: Offers Prenatal Program and parenting classes

Parent Ed: Offers Prenatal Program, parenting classes, Work and Family Vocational Program.

Family Rel: Offers Work and Family Vocational Program, Positive Solutions Curriculum, pamphlets on family issues, counseling services

(614) 752-1159


Children of Incarcerated Parents: Breaking the Cycle Program

This program assists offenders and their families in reuniting and strengthening family relationships. Increased programming opportunities in and out of prison and the development of "family reentry plans" will help guide the offender and his or her family upon release into the community.

(614) 752-1797


Department of Youth Services

The Ohio Department of Youth Services is the juvenile corrections system for the state of Ohio. DYS is statutorily mandated to confine felony offenders, ages 10 to 21, who have been adjudicated and committed by one of Ohio’s 88 county juvenile courts.

During their stay with DYS, youth are engaged in programming that is designed to address their criminological and behavioral needs. Each DYS facility also operates a year-round school that offers general curriculum as well as vocation opportunities.

Adult Ed: Services include clinical, developmental, educational, medical, substance abuse, and sex offense counseling.

Child Ed: NA

Parent Ed: Services include educational, clinical, and medical.

Family Rel: (see Adult Ed list)

(614) 466-4314


Rehabilitation Services Commission

RSC is Ohio's state agency that provides vocational rehabilitation (VR) services to help people with disabilities become employed and independent. It also offers a variety of services to Ohio businesses, resulting in quality jobs for individuals who have disabilities.

(614) 438‑1200



The following nongovernmental organizations and agencies provide more Ohio resources that may be helpful for family literacy programs.


Ohio Parents and Teachers (PTA)
 The Ohio PTA is an association of volunteers seeking to unite home, school and the community in promoting the education, health and safety of children, youth and families.

(614) 781-6344, Fax: (614) 781-6349



Ohio Parent Information and Resource Center

Ohio PIRC provides parents, families, students, educators, and communities with information, resources, and training as mandated by the No Child Left Behind Act.

(888) 647-4729


Learning Disabilities Association of Ohio

LDA's mission is to create opportunities for success for all individuals affected by learning disabilities and to reduce the incidence of learning disabilities in future generations.

(937) 325-1923


Prevent Blindness Ohio

This organization offers vision screening programs and low-cost vision clinics for adults as well as children. It also provides educational materials to elementary school age children for making informed decisions about eye health care.

(614) 464-2020



State Partners Group

An interagency group formed to discuss ways that state agencies and local providers can support the One-Stop system in Ohio. This group is an outgrowth of Ohio’s “For the Common Good” State Team. For the Common Good was a statewide project that facilitated the formation of local interagency linkage teams throughout Ohio focused on improving services to at-risk youth and adults. A state- level team was formed to facilitate the local linkages. The members of the teams represented adult basic education, vocational education, departments of job and family services, postsecondary education, alcohol and drug addiction services, and community action agencies. A few of the local teams are still operating. For information about the Common Good Project visit the Common Good website at


Resource Center Network (RCN)

Ohio ABLE enhanced the State Office capacity to provide professional development to the field through the Resource Center Network. The Ohio Resource Center Network consists of the state resource center and four regional centers. The mission of the Network is to support the ABLE system to enhance student achievement

GOAL I: To provide quality professional development in the form of training, resources, and technical assistance.

GOAL II: To support research and development efforts related to ABLE

Goal III: To provide leadership through collaboration, advocacy, and communication.

The Ohio Resource Center Network maintains a calendar of professional development events for each region and for the state


Ohio Literacy Network (OLN)

OLN's mission is to:

Promote public awareness of adult literacy issues and needs,

Function as an advocate for adult learners and organizations,

Serve as a clearinghouse for exchange of literacy information.

The OLN maintains an on-line directory of Ohio adult and family literacy programs which is searchable by location or type of program and contains information about the programs as well as contact information. The directory can be found at

(800) 228-7323


The Ohio Literacy Resource Center (OLRC)

The Ohio Literacy Resource Center provides support, training and resources for the people who work in the field of Adult Basic and Literacy Education in the state of Ohio. An example is Eureka! a free searchable on-line resource with lesson plans, teaching strategies, and book suggestions.

(330) 672-2007, Fax:  (330) 672-4841



The Ohio Association for Adult and Continuing Education (OAACE)

Ohio's oldest and largest adult continuing education professional organization,  OAACE’s mission is "To represent and serve the providers of adult education." OAACE sponsors an annual statewide conference for ABLE practitioners in addition to a variety of other activities.

(866) 996-2223



The Ohio Family Literacy Statewide Initiative

was one of five federal grants to states to promote family literacy and staff development. Begun in the spring of 1997, the grant contained two spheres of activity, a Policy Makers Seminar and Retreat and Partnership Training. The Project Coordinator worked in Columbus to develop linkages at the state level among departments and agencies involved in services to families. The Ohio Literacy Resource Center worked on a subcontract of the project to develop regional resource teams and technical assistance, including the initial development of this resource notebook.


The Policy Makers Seminar and Retreat met to explore the concept of family literacy and to discuss the resources and challenges that affect family literacy programming.


A Family Literacy Task Force, composed of representatives of the agencies attending, was charged with working with the Project Coordinator to finalize a definition of family literacy and to implement the recommendations of the Retreat


The Partnership Training, part of the grant housed at the Ohio Literacy Resource Center, completed five major projects. A family literacy needs assessment survey was designed and mailed , and the results were analyzed. Four Regional Resource Teams were recruited and trained. They, in turn, implemented regional projects. The OLRC created a family literacy web site with resources and published and distributed The Family Literacy Resource Notebook in paper and online.



Community Colleges 

The OACC focuses on issues affecting Ohio community and technical colleges, and through dialogue with trustees and presidents, adapts solutions to fit the social, educational, and political landscape in the state.

Adult Ed: ABLE programs, GED prep, Basic Skills Refresher, ESL programs, workplace literacy programs, pre‑employment training programs (partnerships may be formed with Ohio Department of Education, County Department of Job and Family Services, Ohio Department of Development Ohio Industrial Training Program, Ohio Board of Regents Productivity Improvement Challenge Program, local school district, local businesses, etc.).

Child Ed: One‑year Child Development Certificate training.

Parent Ed: NA

Family Rel: On‑campus day care centers for students' children.

(888) 533-6222, Fax: (614) 221-6239


The Ohio Board of Regents’ Students and Families page

(614) 466-6000, Fax: (614) 466-5866


Family Service Council of Ohio

this council enhances family living and family serving systems in Ohio by actively advocating for/with families; monitoring and disseminating information on state legislative and administrative policies, programs and services that influence families; and facilitating the exchange of information pertinent to strengthening family life in Ohio.

Adult Ed: NA

Child Ed: NA

Parent Ed: Provide experts for family life and family development programming

Family Rel: Provide local and national experts for family‑focused program development; facilitate workshops, trainings, and model development for family‑focused programs; analyze family advocacy and family impact issues.

(614) 461-1476, Fax : (614) 461-0204



Ohio Association of Child Caring Agencies (OACCA)

The Ohio Association of Child Caring Agencies is a state-wide network of public and private child and family serving agencies.

Adult Ed: Lobby legislative bodies and sponsor advocacy events related to child, family, health, welfare reform, and foster care issues; newsletters and updates on issues for member agencies and legislators (support programs primarily).

Child Ed: NA

Parent Ed: Provide training for foster care families.

Family Rel: Operate family resource centers; collaborate with ADOPT Ohio and Protect Ohio; act as advocates for families and children in legislative issues.

(614) 461-0014, Fax : (614) 228-7004


Ohio Family and Children First

This is a partnership of state and local government, communities and families that enhances the well-being of Ohio’s children and families by building community capacity, coordinating systems and services, and engaging and empowering families. This cross‑systems initiative makes connections with programs and services affecting all four components of family literacy. Targeted result indicators focus on I) early childhood, 2) family stability, 3) school success, and 4) wellness. The targeted population is families and children. Family literacy is/could be a targeted focus for local councils' goals. The Initiative has a programmatic emphasis on prevention and early intervention and an administrative focus on streamlining government operations and promoting local flexibility. OFCF has eight key initiatives and collaborations:  Local Council Support, Help Me Grow, Partnerships for Success, Parent Leadership Training Institute, Wellness, Ohio Learning First Alliance, Family Stability Incentive Fund, and Local/State Partnerships.

(614) 752-4044, Fax: (614) 752-9453


Ohio Head Start Association, Inc.

The association offers support for professional development through training and technical assistance for Head Start administrators, staff and parents.

Adult Ed: Provide staff training; facilitate agreements between Head Start programs and local colleges and universities for credentials and certificates.

Child Ed: Offer center‑based and home‑based collaborations for day care; facilitate the State Education Roundtable.

Parent Ed: Provide state level trainings for staff development; facilitate parent meetings, classroom volunteerism, and parent involvement.

Family Rel: Facilitate state level Parent Roundtable, home visits, and involvement of extended family; provide training materials.

Note: Head Start legislation now mandates a family literacy component in every program

(937) 435-1113, Fax: (937) 435-5411


The Ohio State University Extension

OSU Extension is a dynamic educational entity that partners with individuals, families, communities, business and industry, and organizations to strengthen the lives of Ohioans.

Adult Ed: Offer multiple resources at varying reading levels including curricular materials, brochures, fact sheets, and bulletins on such topics as budgeting, better living, nutrition, using a calendar, balancing work and home life, money management, health, food safety, life skills, and so forth. Over 800 publications are available on CD called Ohioline as well as online. Speakers and materials are available at Extension offices in every county.

Child Ed: Offer over 200 projects in youth development; collaborate with USDA for nutrition education program; facilitate teen programs such as car safety and smokeless tobacco program.

Parent Ed: Offer multiple programs and resources including Practical Education for Parenting Program (PEP), Positive Parenting Newsletter, Child Care Provider Curriculum, Family Life Newsletter and website, and Mentoring Moms Program.

Family Rel: Offer programs such as Divorcing Parents, Family Communications, and Single Parent Family Camps.

(614) 292-4481, Fax: (614) 292-4706


Information and Referral (I&R)

This is a unique process of assessment and information-giving that enables people to make informed decisions about accessing community resources. The Ohio Council of Information & Referral Providers (OCIRP) is leading an effort to implement 211 Ohio statewide. Once it is established, 211 will be a simple, easy-to-remember number to call for help or access to human services. For a list of agencies by county, visit


State Library

The State Library of Ohio offers Federal LIBRARY SERVICE AND TECHNOLOGY act funds to libraries for projects that fit to the following criteria:

*        Programs which provide services to youth in poverty, as defined by the federal government.

*        Programs which provide services to a specific, targeted population in the library's service area.

The grants are open to libraries partnering with Early Childhood agencies in their communities or other child-serving organizations, including family literacy programs. A family literacy tip sheet is included for libraries interested in writing such a grant.

For more information on this funding program or Family Literacy in Ohio's Public Libraries, contact Ruth Metcalf, Library Consultant, State Library of Ohio, (614) 644-6910 or

Adult Ed: Offer facilities for literacy tutoring.

Child Ed: Offer Ohio Reading Program and Youth Services website. Local libraries offer Story Hour and other reading activities.

Parent Ed: Offer parenting and "lapsit" programs; offer literacy/early childhood education information to parents through the "Born to Read" collaborative project between libraries and pediatricians; produce "Ohio Children’s Book Review"; collaborate with parent‑ driven agencies such as OAEYC.

Family Rel: Offer Ohio Reading Program, Youth Services website, and Daycare Teacher Training through "Best Literacy Resources."

(614) 644-7061


Ohio Ready To Read Initiative.

The State Library of Ohio and the Ohio Library Council have created the Ready To Read Initiative to help address the early literacy needs of Ohio’s youngest citizens. This far-reaching initiative will work with state and community organizations to provide the resources and training necessary so that children will be literacy-ready when they start Kindergarten.


Public Libraries

The local public library has long been a promoter of reading for children and their families. Libraries across Ohio offer many programs to support literacy in all of its many varied forms. Over the last decade, libraries have changed their methods to put forth this message. They have collaborated with other agencies via special story times and grants that offer kits with books, cassettes, and toys together. These partnerships are designed to stimulate cooperation between agencies and involve the whole family in the fun of reading and sharing. They also offer a view of what the library has to offer for parents, children, and teachers who work with young children.


Literacy Coalitions

Several communities in Ohio have literacy coalitions that serve as referral and clearinghouse agencies for literacy requests.



The coalition exists to improve, expand, and coordinate services to meet the literacy needs of Ashtabula County. It serves as the network which provides comprehensive services to adults throughout the county. Services provided include

·      Literacy information, speakers, referral services

·      Family literacy information, speakers, referral services, materials

·      GED, basic skills, and ESL classes

·      Volunteer tutors and tutor training workshops

·      Workplace education and career development programs

·      Comprehensive services via a network of member organizations and service providers

(440) 576‑6015 x254



The coalition’s members are dedicated to improvement and self- sufficiency of adults in Clark County.

·      Trains adult literacy volunteer tutors

·      Trains tutors that assist in family literacy

·      G.E.D. classes

·      Instruction in reading, writing, and math

·      Programs for families

·      Instruction in life and employment skills

·      Computer assisted learning

·      Employment services

·      Individual literacy tutoring for adults

·      Classes and tutoring in English For Speakers Of Other Languages (ESOL)

·      Teaching Children to Read using the Stevenson Method

·      PICK-A-Pack (Parents Increasing Children’s Knowledge)

·      Preparation to enter a G.E.D. class

(937) 323‑8617




Cuyahoga County

To serve as the Greater Cleveland central resource and advocate for youth, adult and family literacy.

*          Operates a Literacy Hotline (216-436-2222)

*          Recruits and trains volunteer tutors

*          Presents "Raising Real Readers" workshops for parents

*          Develops "Book Kits for Kids," reading tools for tutors

*          Maintains a Community Literacy Council

*          Offers staff development workshops for non profit organizations

*          Advocates for literacy issues at the local, state, and national level

*          Creates public awareness about the importance of literacy

(216) 436‑2223Email:



A nonprofit organization that serves as the contact center for literacy programs in the tri-state area. Service area includes eight counties: Hamilton, Clermont, Butler, and Warren in Ohio; Kenton, Campbell, and Boone in Kentucky; and Dearborn in Indiana.

*          Recruiting students, tutors and other volunteers for literacy programs

*          Providing tutor training for volunteers and staff

*          Recruiting and training Cincinnati Reads volunteers to work 1-on-1 with kindergarten through 4th grade students struggling with reading

*          Assisting with the formation of new workplace and community literacy programs

*          Providing a regional literacy resource center

*          Advocating for legislation to provide funding for literacy Promoting literacy to the community

*          Serving as a coordinating body for over 60 literacy programs that operate in 100 different sites in the tri-state area

(513) 621‑7323



·        Individual tutoring for adults who wish to learn to read or improve their literacy skills.

·        Individual tutoring for ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages). (As conversation partners)

·        Family literacy activities, such as The Summer Reading Program and The Ventures Program.

·        Partnership with ABLE/GED in helping adult learners improve basic skills.

(740) 363-1993 x2217



Lake County

*          One-on-one Tutoring - "each one teach one" method of instruction.

*          GED - Ohio High School Equivalence Diploma

*       ESOL (English For Speakers of Other Languages)

*          Family Literacy Program - "Teach the parent, reach the child."

*          Work Place Basics Programs focus on the basic skills necessary to perform current or future jobs.

(800) 544-9750



Montgomery County

Through Project READ, over 35 literacy and basic skills providers, 83 schools and tutoring sites in Montgomery, Greene, and Preble counties, and over 55 businesses and community partners are committed to building literacy in the Miami Valley.

*          GED classes

*          Ohio Reads

*          One-on-One tutoring

*          ESOL

*          Family Literacy

*          Work Place Basics

*          Learning Links

(937) 512-5201



The Literacy Coalition offers Portage County adults and their families appropriate literacy instruction through volunteer tutors or small classes, literacy information, speakers, and referral services.

·      GED preparation

·      Basic skills in math, reading, and writing

·      English as a Second Language (ESL)

·      Family literacy services

·      Workplace literacy programs

·      Volunteer tutors and tutor training

(330) 297‑4418



Union County

A local coalition of organizations and individuals that provide and support  Adult Basic and Literacy Education programs and associated activities in Marysville and Union County

(937) 644-2796

Chapter 3 - How Do We Get Started?


This chapter contains resource material to help new family literacy programs plan. Much of this information was gathered from existing programs--mostly in Ohio. Some of this information relates to Even Start, but those planning less comprehensive efforts may find sections of this chapter valuable. Two related themes are found in all of these resources: partnerships and planning. Moreover, we believe you will find no recipes within. We have provided important questions to consider, but each community group must find its own answers.


We know that behavior is guided by assumptions. Family literacy programs are grounded in important beliefs about families and learning. Here are a few of them:

*          The family unit is the appropriate focus if we plan to influence the attitudes, values, and expectations communicated in the home.

*          Families are culturally and individually diverse; this diversity is healthy and enriches the community.

*          Literacy has a strong intergenerational effect; it exists on a continuum.

*          All families have strengths.

*          Change takes time; it is a gradual process. It is more meaningful and lasting if the community as a whole participates in the change.


Before beginning a family literacy program, you should examine your own beliefs because they will affect your attitudes toward parents and children as well as your teaching style, content, and methods. Sometimes program staff realize well into their first program year that their team has been operating under different assumptions about the mission of their program, the needs of families, the proper role of teachers, etc. We encourage you to set aside time before you open your doors to examine and discuss the assumptions that underlie your work with families. You may want to use the list above as a starting point for staff discussion.


Don’t try to do it alone. First you need a team of teachers and the support of your school or agency. Teamwork is vital to family literacy. You’ll need each other to plan integrated activities across the components; share responsibility for Parent and Child Together Time, parent group meetings, and recruitment activities; observe and assess individuals and families; solve problems; and maintain the community collaboration you need for a successful program. And that is your second important need: a collaborative group that represents the agencies and organizations in your community that have a stake in the welfare of families. Integrated services require strong, effective collaborative networks. Build your collaboration in the planning stages of your program. Public schools, colleges and universities, libraries, social service agencies, local government, churches, businesses, and other organizations all have parts to play. Links with local businesses are especially important to facilitate the next steps for parents: job training and employment. Input from business can make your curriculum more workplace-relevant and responsive to the specific needs of the local economy. Similarly, you will want to connect with colleges and universities to help parents make the transition to further their education.

The Family Literacy Answer Book. Louisville, KY: National Center for Family Literacy. (Used with permission)


An Overview of Planning Issues

Focus on Families: Putting a Program Together

by Nancy Padak and Tim Rasinski

It makes sense to think of families as educational units, and research supports this contention

Because of this potential, many groups have recently initiated family literacy programs. But because family literacy is a complex educational effort, those who begin programs are often not aware of the start-up problems they may encounter. This is unfortunate, since many problems are typical and can be solved during planning, thus ensuring a smoother beginning and a more enduring program. We conducted a study (Rasinski & Padak, 1993) to learn about the initiation process for Even Start Programs in Ohio. These federally funded family literacy programs are located in urban, suburban, small city, and rural areas. All of the programs were relatively new when this study was conducted; the oldest began in 1989.


We surveyed Program Directors for these Even Start programs to identify the difficulties they encountered during the beginning stages of their programs and the solutions they developed. Below we summarize the processes these programs used to get started. We also report the problems they encountered. Finally, we detail the suggestions or advice that personnel from these programs offer to others beginning family literacy programs.


We asked Project Directors to rate the ease they experienced in starting their projects, using a 1 (very easy) to 5 (very difficult) scale. The mean rating for the projects was 3.7, suggesting that, in general, Project Directors believed that they experienced significant challenges and difficulties in initiating their programs. The challenging nature of program initiation was also evident when we asked Project Directors to describe the tasks and procedures they undertook to get their programs started. Some experienced more frustration than others, of course, but even though the programs differed in many ways, we found considerable overlap in the types of activities that were seen as essential to successful initiation. These included:

*          selecting, hiring, and training staff members;

*          selecting and preparing sites;

*          purchasing equipment and essential materials;

*          coordinating and networking with other agencies;

*          introducing the program to the community;

*          defining responsibilities of the program, especially when there was potential overlap with other agencies;

*          identifying and recruiting families for the program.


These tasks were especially daunting because programs were not, in many cases, adequately staffed; if staff were in place, they were typically not trained to address these issues. The lack of previous experience or a model upon which the programs could base their own actions and decisions was a further complication. We also asked about significant problems that the projects encountered as they initiated their programs and about how those problems were overcome. Overall, projects reported a variety of very practical problems, including site and staff selection; staff orientation and training; coordinating with and gaining the cooperation of related agencies, especially local school districts; finding appropriate materials; and recruitment and retention of parents, including provisions for transportation and child care.


When we compared these problems with the start-up tasks that the projects described, we noticed that nearly every task was perceived as problematic. This is another indication that getting a family literacy program started is a challenging endeavor.


The programs dealt with these problems, even those that they could not satisfactorily resolve, forcefully and with initiative and imagination. For example, trouble finding space led some programs to look elsewhere; some even changed the nature of program delivery so that families could be served in their homes. When site accessibility was a problem, programs sought ways to provide transportation. One of the most important solutions was to develop as early as possible a clear vision of what the program was about, who it served, and in what ways. Programs then organized themselves very quickly to realize that vision and to address problems in an informed and rational manner.


Finally, we asked the existing programs what advice they would offer to those just beginning their projects. The following summarizes their suggestions:

*          Collaborate with other family literacy projects and personnel

*          Meet frequently to clarify expectations and brainstorm solutions to problems.

*          Seek resources from other programs, state agencies, universities, etc.

*          Seek mentors among established programs. Collaborate within your own program.

*          Meet frequently; work at creating a cohesive team; commit yourselves to functioning as a team.

*          Make communication among team members a priority; make sure everyone knows what everyone else is doing.

*          Organize staff; assign specific tasks and responsibilities.

*          Find resource people (e.g., social workers, school personnel) who can assist if needed.

*          Work together to find additional funding for family literacy efforts. Collaborate within your community.

*          Decide with whom and how your program should collaborate. Convince these persons/agencies of the importance of family literacy programs, in general, and your particular project goals.

*          Invest time in establishing these collaborative relationships early in your project.

*          Work to make these relationships strong and flexible.

*          Communicate frequently with these agencies. Seek their advice.

*          Advertise your program to the local community through the media, flyers, talks, etc.

*          Be realistic about program goals.

*          Decide the number of families and the age range of children that can realistically be served.

*          Realize that delays and unanticipated problems are inevitable and that program start-up will take a great deal of time and energy, usually more than originally planned. Don’t get discouraged. Develop a plan for addressing unanticipated concerns.

*          Hire staff as quickly as possible. Be aware of both formal and informal qualifications for staff (See Chapter 7).

*          Create a staff development plan that offers long-term support. Obtain help from others.

*          Develop goals and objectives to guide the program.

*          Develop a system to ensure that program goals are addressed. Continually review to be certain that progress is being made. Keep a paper trail documenting progress.

*          Plan recruiting strategies carefully and early. Involve other agencies.


Initiating a family literacy program is extremely challenging. It requires the completion of many diverse and seemingly unrelated tasks, often with a limited or insufficiently trained staff. Establishing and nurturing connections within and among family literacy programs is one key to successful initiation. Vertical connections to the state for the purpose of support are vital. Similarly, establishing early and strong connections with potential families to be served can ensure that the program addresses family needs.


Horizontal connections are also critical to successful program initiation. These include connections with well-established family literacy programs and with related agencies in the community that can help with pragmatic needs and concerns.


Family literacy programs have incredible potential for improving the educational development of adults and children. The time spent carefully planning the initial phases of these projects will help ensure the early and continuing success of these programs.

Rasinski, T., & Padak, N. (1993). Initiating Even Start Programs (Occasional Paper #1). Kent,

OH: Kent State University.

OLRC Publication #030 0200 0005. February, 1994.

The research reported here was supported by a grant from the Ohio Department of

Education, Division of Federal Assistance (Project #062976-EV-SD-94).



The Even Start Initiative: An Overview

This section is intended for groups who are considering developing an Even Start program in their communities. The information provided comes from local Even Start program personnel and the State Even Start Consultant. First, we provide an overview of Even Start. Next we answer questions and offer suggestions about collaboration, recruitment, transportation, and food services--areas new programs frequently wonder about. We conclude with some general questions that groups may wish to consider before submitting their applications and several sources for further information. According to law, Even Start (ES) programs are “intended to improve educational opportunities of the Nation’s children and adults by integrating early childhood education and adult education for parents into a unified program... The program shall be implemented through cooperative projects that build on existing community resources to create a new range of services.” (PL 100-297, Sec. 1051). If you would like to read the ES legislation, see a) the Hawkins-Stafford Elementary and Secondary School Improvement Amendments of 1988;|TOM:/bss/d100query.html   b) the National Literacy Act of 1991 ; c) the Improving America’s Schools Act of 1994  and d) the William F. Goodling Even Start Family Literacy Programs legislation



Parents and children participate in ES as family units. In general, families qualify when a) parent(s) are eligible for adult basic education (they lack a high school diploma or equivalent academic skills) or are in high school and b) children are younger than age eight.


ES must provide integrated programming in early childhood education, adult basic education, parenting education, and opportunities for parents and children to interact in literacy-related activities. Therefore, ES focuses on the family rather than just parents or children. Some instruction must occur during home visits. ES goals are to:

*          help parents become full partners in the education of their children.

*          assist children in reaching their full potential as learners.

*          provide basic education and literacy training for parents.


ES funding to states is based on their proportion of Title I Basic Grant funds. ES programs are four-year demonstration projects, awarded through a competitive grant process. The statute sets minimum funding for individual programs with the federal portion of a program’s total budget diminishing over the years of the award. Local programs are expected to take on more of the fiscal burden for the program as the federal share lessens.

Planning Suggestions

*          Take time to find out what already exists in your community; try to find ALL the providers of certain services. See if your area has a child care collaborative, such as a Unified Child Service Plan, or a Family Council. Check with ODE or the Ohio Literacy Network (adult education), human services, Departments of Job and Family Services, health department, MRDD, public library, hospitals, public housing authority, vocational schools, etc.

*          Get people together to talk. Don’t assume this is already happening. Ask about existing collaboratives. Read your county’s Unified Service Providers Plan.

*          Keep the focus during planning on families, not on agencies.

*          Keep the focus during planning on pulling existing services together rather than creating a new program.

*          Conduct a needs assessment and/or survey of existing services related to family education. Use ES funds to fill in gaps and provide coordination.

*          Start by discussing what services can be provided. Initially, at least, disregard decisions about who will assume fiscal responsibility for the project.

*          Find out about (and join) collaborative groups already operating in the community, especially those related to any aspect of ES programs. Possibilities include Family and Children First Councils and Common Good Linkage Teams.

*          Look for partners who can offer what your families need (e.g., transportation, housing, counseling, vocational training).

*          Keep it simple. Start small and grow. Begin with partnerships that are highly likely to be successful.

*          Good contacts: ABLE and other adult education providers (such as Proliteracy programs), ECE programs (such as Head Start and public preschools), social service providers, county departments of job and family services, YMCA/YWCA, hospitals, colleges/ universities, vocational schools, K- 12 schools (especially those with Title I school wide projects), boards of MRDD, mental health services. Some needed services are obvious, but many coordinators of established programs say they wish they had involved mental health services earlier.


Effective Partners/ Partnerships

*          Willingness to commit resources in a very specific written agreement. (Be certain agency heads will honor the commitments made by their representatives.)

*          Willingness to meet for planning and for ongoing management.

*          Willingness to provide funds, services, or other assets that will benefit the project. Even Start is the second funder. The partners are the first funders of the family literacy program.

*          Willingness to develop and work to implement a program with a clear sense of mission for the four-year period.


Elect a leader as soon as the planning group is formed; then select a fulltime coordinator ASAP. Ideally, the coordinator will be involved in planning the program.


Co-applicants, sitting on a management team, should be jointly responsible for recruitment, management, and coordination of all aspects of the project. The coordinator should ensure that collaborative efforts are tracked and that all ES components are followed.


The fiscal agent should be the agency where the coordinator is housed and one accustomed to dealing with grants; analyze the structure and mission of all interested agencies to make this decision.


The coordinator should be a “people person” who has the respect of the team. S/he also needs good organizational skills and follow-through ability. Good teachers are not always good “hustlers”; go for the hustler. The goals of the coordinator are:

*          to ensure that the project is carried out according to plan.

*          to facilitate all aspects of the project: daily management, recruitment, program implementation and design, cooperation among agencies, staffing, evaluation, budgeting, making decisions, keeping all informed.

*          to promote the program throughout the community, particularly with social service agencies.

*          to act as program representative within agencies and the community.

*          to seek new opportunities for services, recruiting, funding, etc. (see chapter 7 for staff job descriptions)


When recruiting students for the program:

*          Start with existing pools: adult education, Head Start, public preschool, county Department of Human Services, early childhood education programs, K-2 teachers, WIC clinics, hospital neonatal units, churches.

*          Work one-on-one, face-to-face.

*          Use students as recruiters and speakers.

*          Create events and share them faithfully with local media.

*          Make a recruitment plan that involves all staff and follow through on it.

*          Make recruitment a top priority for all staff by including it in written job descriptions.

*          Follow up on referrals and let the person who made the referral know what the outcome was.

*          Recruit honestly. Make the program meet student’s needs. If ES isn’t an appropriate placement, recommend another program to the student. (see chapter 8 for more information on participant recruitment and retention)



*          Locate programs as near as possible to the population to be served. If possible, locate all services in one site to minimize need for transportation.

*          Use bus tokens or passes; public school, Head Start, or church buses or vans.

*          Use ES money to lease buses or vans.

*          Coordinate your reimbursement policies and procedures with other state/ federal programs.



*          Include food in your budget. It is a great motivator.

*          Buy a small refrigerator and crock pot. Buying and preparing food is a great learning activity.

*          Check into buying food from your school district’s food services.

*          Ask local food stores and restaurants to make donations.

*          Apply to a local food bank for membership. (Schools do not qualify, but other co-applicants may.)

*          Serve healthy snacks during half-day sessions rather than full meals.


Parents under 20 are entitled to free food through the U.S. Department of Agriculture. (See Government Offices, U.S. Government in your yellow pages.)


Day Care

*          Contract with existing providers (Head Start, public preschools, nonprofits, YMCA/YWCAs) or supplement existing programs.

*          Try to locate the parents’ class in (or near) the children’s school.

*          Learn about licensing requirements before developing your own child care facility.


Questions to consider before applying for a grant

*          What are community needs, and how can ES help address them? What are community assets, and how will ES build on them?

*          Is true collaboration possible in this community among these agencies?

*          To what extent does the program fit with school district and community goals? Do the agency heads and/or building principals really want a family literacy program?

*          Are we willing to comply with ES regulations?

*          Who will provide the core components? Where? When? Where will ES offices be located? Who will develop policies and procedures to implement ES federal guidelines?

*          Where will matching funds come from?

*          How will the curriculum reflect learners’ interests? How will successful students be different from when they began the program?

*          Are there barriers (e.g., transportation, child care) to successful implementation?

*          How many families can we realistically serve? What age(s) of children should we target?

*          As a demonstration project, how will we demonstrate that ES dollars are being used effectively and are adding value to existing educational services?

*          Visit an existing ES program, ideally one that is similar to what you have in mind. Contact the Office of Family and School Partnerships for visitation sites.


For general information about family literacy, contact the Ohio Literacy

Resource Center


For more information about ES, contact

The State Coordinator

Ohio Department of Education

Office of Early Learning and School Readiness

25 S. Front St., MS 305
Columbus, OH 43215
(614) 466-0224


Turning Points

In the paper “Turning Points in Even Start Programs: Occasional Paper #4” by Nancy Padak and Tim Rasinski of Kent State University, Even Start program coordinators described what they considered to be the activities that led to a sense of security and unified purpose. The advice that follows, which is drawn from the results of this study, may  give direction to new projects on what they might expect to experience in getting established and what sorts of activities seem to push fledging programs out of the nest.

(1)    Craft a mission statement that will give planners a sense of purpose. Make it so meaningful that in difficult times partners can return to it and be reminded of why they developed a family literacy program in the first place. Usually, this simply means remembering that the program is to serve families.

(2)    Develop with cooperating agencies firm, written agreements outlining exactly what each agency will contribute and receive from the overall project. Too often, program planners collect general letters of support and then find themselves trying to specify working relationships at the same time they are trying to hire staff, recruit, order equipment, and so on. Save time and effort by getting specific agreements first.

(3)    Secure a site based not only on convenience but also, maybe more importantly, on the commitment of the building administrator. An administrator who will sell your program to parents walking down the hallway and who will enlist the support of his or her building staff will move your project months ahead of the administrator who does not recruit and who lets other building staff complain about having to share space with Even Start. Again, get a written agreement as to the commitment of space.

(4)    Clarify with cooperating agencies that provide staff (most likely ABLE and preschool programs) what kind of persons are needed to make a holistic approach to serving disadvantaged families succeed. And clarify that the Even Start coordinator needs the right to reject instructors who cannot effectively work in a family literacy setting.

(5)    Start up! Don’t wait until everything is perfectly in place. The program will experience periods of stumbling, and they might as well be encountered sooner as later. Jump in and start serving families.

(6)    As staff are hired, ask them about their attitudes toward instructional issues that can make Even Start sink or swim. What do they believe about assessment, about how adults learn to read, about methods of instruction, about the use of workbooks, about the use of real-life materials, about willingness to plan instruction as a team, about the purpose and value of home visits? Staff who cannot agree on most of these matters and who are not flexible will keep the program from moving forward - and will keep coordinators awake at night.

(7)    Don’t start from scratch in recruiting families. Go to ABLE classes, Title I parent meetings, Head Start parent meetings; send notices by way of public school and Head Start children. And as you recruit, be clear about what Even Start provides and expects from participants. There is no value in recruiting families who do not want the entire Even Start package. Also think about ways to introduce parents gradually into the program by first introducing them to the components they do want (most frequently, GED preparation) and then adding the other components once they have a sense of commitment. If families are not successfully recruited fairly quickly, staff becomes demoralized.

(8)    Staffing patterns in Even Start can be complicated - adult educators, parent educators, early childhood educators, child care aides, some working at a central location and some working in homes, some hired by Even Start  and some working for cooperating agencies. Insist that staff experience training as a team and plan some instruction together as a team. This expectation has to be communicated to cooperating agencies and to staff being interviewed, and it needs to be included in those written agreements mentioned above. Some projects spend months in frustration because staff did not have a shared sense of purpose.

(9)    Give parents ownership in every way possible. Involve them in developing and carrying out recruitment plans. Ask them to write orientation materials. Ask them to provide orientation to new families. Ask them what they would like to learn about their children, about parenting, about health, about job preparation, about other training opportunities. Examples of what can result include Barberton where parents attend a weight reduction class, Kettering where families remodeled an old house, Cleveland where parents mobilized for playground improvement at their elementary school, Canton where parents selected and shopped for the computers to purchase for their classroom. Obviously this requires the flexible staff referred to above, staff who can stand back and watch the parents go. Giving parents ownership fosters commitment and steady attendance. The program grows and staff are energized.

(10)  Remember that the federal legislation says that the applicant is a PARTNERSHIP. Even Start does not belong to a single agency. Figure out and write down how agencies will function in a partnership. Make decisions as partners. Hire staff as partners. Solve problems as partners. Evaluate the program as partners.


Family Literacy Program Development: Issues to Consider

Understanding the Population

  Who are the people to be served?

  What are their needs around family support issues?

  What are their literacy needs?

  What key community and agency leaders can help define the needs to be served?

  How are the potential learners involved in expressing their concerns and needs about parenting and family life?

  What information is needed about the community and the issues it faces?

  How have issues of language and culture been addressed?


Program Design and Development

  How will family needs be met most effectively?

  Direct or indirect programming for parents

  Direct or indirect programming for children

  Combined parent/child programming

  What age children will be served?

  How are funding priorities and constraints addressed and met?

  What are specific program goals and objectives? Anticipated outcomes?

  How are learners involved in program planning?

  How will learners’ initial needs, strengths, and goals be assessed?


Staffing Issues

  How does program staffing address family and cultural backgrounds of learners?

  What kind of professional development opportunities are needed and made available--in child development/parenting skills, adult literacy, emergent literacy, and cultural awareness/multicultural education?


Community/Agency Involvement and Collaboration

  How are ongoing relationships maintained with community partners, agencies?

  How are family literacy programs and services integrated with the delivery of other family and social services?


Curriculum Development

  Scope: determining program components

  What will be included for parents?

  Literacy instruction?

  Parenting skills?

  Employment-related skills?

  Support of children’s learning?

  What will be included for children?

  Emergent literacy instruction, support?


  Home-based vs. site-based?

  What activities are for parents and children together vs. separately?

  Language and culture

  How are learners’ native languages and cultures incorporated into the curriculum?

  How are learners’ family cultures and patterns incorporated into the curriculum?

  What family and cultural resources are utilized as instructional materials?

  How are the strengths, wisdom, and history of the family valued and integrated into the learning process?

  Collaboration among learners and program staff

  What opportunities are available for sharing successes, concerns, learnings, and problem solving?

  Is a sense of community fostered among the learners and teachers?

  What roles are played by adults, children, and program staff? What kinds of opportunities are there for flexible roles?



  What kinds of learner and program outcomes are expected?

  How are they evaluated? Measured?


Source: National Center on Adult Literacy. (1995). Families and literacy: Making sense of the issues. Philadelphia: Author.





Planning for Diversity: Discussion Grid


Brainstorm with colleagues to fill in the cells



How can needs

of adults, as

they themselves

define them, be

identified and


How can native

language and

culture be supported?

How can

tradition and change

be integrated?

How can channels

for inter-generational


of knowledge be

restored and/or


How can community

be fostered

among learners

and practitioners

who serve them?


1. Early







2. Adult education/

English as a

second language





3. Parent time






4. Parents and








How to add family literacy to your program. Syracuse, NY: Literacy Volunteers of America




Checklist: Learners’ Lives as Curriculum

·        Have community leaders and key players been identified for adult learners you wish to serve?

·        Are these leaders invited to teach you about the needs, concerns, and interests of adult learners?

·        Are adult learners given ways to express their concerns and interests about parenting and about family life?

·        Does the program have bilingual personnel or volunteers to talk to adult learners in the languages they know best?

·        Do language teaching materials reflect the concerns that adult learners raise?

·        Are narratives about learner experiences collected and used  in the language and literacy classrooms?

·        Do adult learners have an opportunity to discuss how they did things in their country (or region) of origin?

·        Do they have an opportunity to learn about new ways and new resources in the United States?

·        Do adult learners have an opportunity to evaluate for themselves, in discussion with peers, which strategies for living to keep, and which strategies to change?

·        Do teachers and administrators have information about parenting, schooling and discipline in adult learners’ countries or regions of origin?

·        Is acquisition of parents’ native languages and understanding of places of origin encouraged for children?

·        Are parents’ native languages used or demonstrably valued in the program?

·        Is there an opportunity in the educational curriculum for adult learners to remember and document the past?

·        Is there an opportunity for children in the program to hear about or imagine what life was like in their parents’ countries (or regions) of origin?

·        Does the program use folk tales, oral history, proverbs, or other media for transmitting native cultural values?

·        Do family members or community elders play any part in the program?

·        Do adult learners in this program have an opportunity to share experiences with one another?

·        Is there any opportunity for collective problem-solving among adult learners?

·        Are the learnings and reflections of adult learners shared with others?

·        Do practitioners have an opportunity to discuss successes, concerns, and insights on a regular basis as part of the job (i.e., on paid staff time)?

·        Is time built for team-building and fun, both for learners in the classroom and for practitioners at work?

·        Are the learnings and reflections of program personnel made available, in some form, to share with others?


How to add family literacy to your program. Syracuse, NY: Literacy Volunteers of America.












Overview of First-Year Tasks

A sample overview of the work to be accomplished in the family literacy project’s first year. Note that this is a program with volunteer tutors not teachers. You may need to adapt it for your program.


Task                                                                Month















Needs Analysis/Community Survey














Plan Project/Evaluation














Get Support of Board, Staff, Tutors














Network with Appropriate Agencies














Set up Detailed Budget














Secure Funding/Resources














Secure Family Literacy Coordinator














Student Recruitment/ Orientation














Tutor Recruitment/ Orientation














Tutor Workshop














Match Tutors and Students














Tutoring Sessions