Parental engagement is extremely important in a child’s learning process, school readiness and ability to have a successful school experience. Research shows that children who start school able to work at grade level are more likely to reach their full educational, social and life potential.

JCCA’s Early Literacy program (funded by a grant from the New York Community Trust) provides essential intervention for our youngest and most vulnerable children (0-8 years) who are in JCCA foster homes, by identifying pre-reading deficits and engaging children and their parents in a six-month-long, intervention program. The program incorporates pre-testing, parent/foster parent education, and post-testing and evaluation. Parents are trained in fun “Growing Young Readers” workshops that include raffles, refreshments and starter kits. They take what they learn in the workshops and incorporate the new techniques with their children at home. Valerie Melendez, a foster parent participant in a recent Brooklyn workshop, is enthusiastic. “It was so valuable learning different ways to open my child’s eyes to reading. My daughter has a traumatic brain injury and is struggling a bit, so I really like Sight Words (flash cards with words affixed to and identifying places and objects in the household) because they’re simple and helpful.”

As workshop trainer and Speech-Language Pathologist Michelle Solomon explains, “In these workshops, parents are getting the idea that their everyday experiences can encourage reading in their children. You can turn almost anything into a learning experience for your child and I think parents find that exciting.”

Lori Henle, JCCA Foster Home Services Director of Education, adds, “We’re thrilled to offer “Growing Young Readers” training to our parents, foster parents, parenting youth and staff. The interactive training provides fun ways to integrate literacy into everyday activities. All our participants were very appreciative of the strategies shared and of the terrific materials given out (backpacks, markers, books, BrainQuest packs). Participant reviews have been uniformly glowing!”

Another foster parent, Towanda Davis, remarks, “The whole educational training was great. My 2-year-old loves to learn and I know that one of the books from my backpack will be a favorite for bedtime stories every night from now on!”