A National Resource to Support Excellence in Community Action
Last Revised: Mar 21, 2011 - Initial Posting: Aug 23, 2007
Purpose

The Union-Snyder Community Action Agency established the Families Learning Together Program as a family literacy and self-sufficiency initiative for adults with basic education needs and at least one child in third grade or under.

Description

The Union-Snyder Community Action Agency developed the Families Learning Together Program (FLT) to support family literacy and self-sufficiency.  FLT is based on the belief that “parents are their children’s first and most important teachers.”  Program goals include adult education, employment, parenting and life management, participation in child’s school and learning, and child success in learning.

FLT is a partnership involving Union-Snyder CAA and various organizations that serve parents and children including Head Start, the public schools, Children & Youth, and others.  Participation is open to adults with an educational need (GED, ESOL, Driver’s Education, Job Skills, Basic Skills, Computer Literacy, etc.) and with a child in grade 3 or below.  The  FLT Brochure describes various elements of the program including:

  • Adult Education Classes – Educational assessments are conducted to gage learner levels and to assist in developing individualized educational plans.  Instruments used include the Test of Adult Basic Education (TABE), the Comprehensive Adult Student Assessment System (CASAS), and a work-related skills assessment such as the Foundation Skills Self-Appraisal from the Workforce Education Research Center (WERC) under the Pennsylvania Department of Education.
  • Parenting Classes using agency curriculum as well as Guiding Good Choices® for elementary and middle school and Staying Connected to Your Teen® for older children.  Agency curriculum focuses on child development, discipline, family dynamics, nutrition, health and safety issues, and parent-directed topics.
  • Interactive Literacy Activities (ILA)
  • Early Childhood Education Classes – Developmental assessments are conducted to gage children’s growth to develop individual and group instruction in the classroom.
  • Transportation as Needed due to the rural nature of the area
  • Free Meals
  • Family Fun Nights held monthly

Program staff includes a Family Literacy Director, an Adult Education Coordinator, a Parent Education Coordinator, an Early Childhood Education Coordinator, and a Case Management Coordinator who works with between 26-30 families.

All activities are designed to help family members meet goals.  Families participate at least twice weekly in sessions where the children are involved in the child education program and the parents in adult education and parenting classes.  Families come together for a nutritious meal and for a planned activity involving the parent and her/his children.  Families take home books and activity kits, and weekly assignments that include parent-child reading, child development activities, and adult education homework.  Special activities include monthly family nights and field trips, along with activities coordinated with the county libraries.

Foundation Skills WheelAdult education includes basic reading and math, GED preparation, workplace literacy and job search, distance learning, and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL).  The Foundation Skills Framework helps provide a common language and understanding of the basic skills, knowledge, and competencies adults need to obtain or maintain jobs and advance to higher paying jobs.  It has been a very effective tool for developing work-based foundation skills programs within Pennsylvania's Adult Basic and Literacy Education (ABLE) system and promoting their importance within the continuum of workforce development system activities.

In addition to focused adult education lessons, staff work together to develop and present integrated parent and child lessons to maximize learning.  For example, a session on family nutrition would include an age-appropriate child learning activity, an adult learner lesson on nutrition and vegetables that includes reading, word recognition, and following a recipe, followed by parent and child together time of preparing and eating a nutritious vegetable snack, reading of a children’s book related to vegetables, and a related take home reading recognition activity to play as a family.  FLT newsletters are also published as a way to promote literacy through information that supplements program activities.

A “small business” project is used to help students develop job-related skills including math, writing, teamwork, and business communication skills through managing a children’s book order program.  The students also work on developing resumes, doing mock interviews and reviewing and preparing for entry level employer exams.

Family literacy outreach and education is provided during the summer through a Creative Arts Puppetry Troupe, composed of AmeriCorps members, volunteers, and staff who provide puppet shows and related literacy activities to children and families at libraries, community centers, and parks.  Other special summer literacy events are also sponsored by FLT.

Outcomes

FLT tracks outcomes based on Family Literacy Performance Standards established by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.  Service data indicates that FLT serves those most in need: over half of the adults are at or below 7th grade reading and math levels and the majority are low-income.  Many FLT families have multiple challenges such as severe learning disabilities and/or minimal family management and work skills.  More than half of the families served have family functioning issues and are involved in Children and Youth services.  The majority are ABE adult learners; over half need to improve basic math and reading and critical thinking skills for entry-level employment.

Results of pre and post tests indicate that families consistently show improvement in education, parenting and parent-child educational interaction. FLT partnerships with key organizations continue to grow in depth and effectiveness of service collaborations.  Results for FY ’08-’09 indicate that 100% of the 28 adults set adult and family educational goals and made measurable steps toward achieving those goals, including:

  • Adult educational goals included beginning ABE (4 students), low intermediate ABE (6 students).  High intermediate ABE (10 students), Low Adult Secondary (1 student) and high adult secondary ed (8 students). Goals achieved include GED (4 of 7 students), employment-related education (2 of 2 students), and employment (4 of 5 students), with those who did not achieve the goal continuing to work on it.
  • 100% of parents have demonstrated, through pre- and post-tests, improved parenting skill knowledge and 80% have demonstrated use of improved family management/parenting skills.
  • 77% of parents demonstrated increased involvement in their child’s literacy activities and 50% of parents demonstrated increased participation in working with the child’s school/teacher.
  • Child educational level was maintained or improved; at the end of the school year: 100% were promoted to the next grade, and 100% improved reading level with 63% reading on or above grade level.
Contact

Sharon Leon, Family Literacy Director
570.374.8938 ext. 143