Even Start Family Literacy Program
Partnership Helps Families Become Self-Sufficient
Supported by donors and partners from throughout our community, the Appleton Even Start Family Literacy program helps break the cycle of poverty and illiteracy by offering a family approach to education. It’s an effective and productive partnership, and Fox Valley Technical College plays a key role in parent education.
The program is coordinated by the Appleton Area School District (AASD) at McKinley School and annually provides more than 70 families with parent education, early childhood education, and interactive literacy activities. The program helps parents gain the academic, social and civic skills needed to become economically self-sufficient and strong role models for their children.
Even Start Family Literacy
Simultaneously, their children gain critical academic and social skills needed to excel in school, preventing an academic achievement gap for disadvantaged children.
The program serves a high number of low-income Hispanic female parents. Through years of experience, program leaders have found that Hispanic mothers exert the greater parental influence on their children. They tend to be the chief family bread-winners and many are raising children alone. By helping them to navigate new surroundings, learn English, advance their education, and advocate for their children, the program can reduce the generational cycle of poverty for them and for their children.
On average, 36.5 hours per week of adult education are provided during conveniently scheduled morning and afternoon classes. This schedule enables parents to attend classes while their school-aged children are in public school classes and their pre-school-age children attend Even Start Early Childhood classes.
Fox Valley Technical College provides parents with adult basic education, which often begins with English language learning. Many adults work to obtain their high school credential and improve their skills in math, reading, social studies, English, civics, health, and science. Financial and health literacy education is also provided.
The AASD focuses on early childhood education for the children. In addition to classroom instruction, monthly home visits further integrate the services. For families with children from birth to three years of age, the “Born to Learn” curriculum with “Parents as Teachers” program is used. Parenting skill development and quality interactions between parent and child are also important elements of each visit.
Over its 16-year partnership, FVTC and AASD have seen life-changing outcomes for families enrolled in the program. Parents learn English, communicate more effectively, engage with and advocate for their children, earn their high school credential, and gain employment or enroll in further educational opportunities. Children receive vision, hearing and developmental screening at earlier ages, learn more effectively and retain what they’ve learned, and are better prepared for kindergarten and elementary school. Longer-term results for children include improved English proficiency, better classroom attendance, and high promotion rates from one grade to the next.
Participants’ comments say it best! From a father in the program: “I feel better about myself. The math I am doing is trivial for my 12-year-old, but it is hard for me. Coming here has made it a little bit easier for me. My daughter gets to come here and I spend some time with her every day so we get to bond that way. It really has been a great benefit for us. She looks forward to coming. I get to look forward to coming. And when I go home, I can feel better about things and help my son with his math.” One mother shared, "My goal is to learn more English and have better communication with my sons, my sons’ teachers and probably in the future – a better job."