York County First Steps is developing partnerships and collaborations with Community and Faith Based Organizations that serve at risk populations within our County. The partners that we establish programs with already serve at risk children and their families and provide a nurturing and caring environment where the families have developed a sense of trust. Our partners have the children and families and typically need direction, some training on literacy activities and access to age appropriate books, all of which, YCFS can provide.
The goals for the Literacy Initiative are:
- Begin to close the literacy gap for at-risk children: There is a significant gap in the hours of literacy-based activities for a child of a middle-class family when compared to a child of a family in poverty. This gap can create a lack of readiness when entering school that is difficult if not impossible to bridge.
- Parent Education: provides instruction on how children grow, develop, and learn. It connects parents with community resources, and provides opportunities for parents to network and develop mutual support systems.
- Interactive Parent/Child Activities: provides parents and children the opportunity to share their newly developed literacy experiences.
- Identifying Children that need more intensive interventions: As the programs and workshops are provided to the children and parents, any child that appears to need more intensive interventions will be referred to the proper service provider to connect to such services.
One of the main objectives that came from the First Steps Vision 2013 review was to find the most at-risk children to ensure that their needs are being met if at all possible. In many poverty settings, children are remaining in home situations and do not see a structured educational setting until they enter school. Our partnership through these organizations provides access to these preschool children so that they can be referred to early interventions well before they enter school.