2011 NACo Achievement Award

You Can Make a Difference as a County of Orange Volunteer!

National Association of Counties (NACo)
2011 Achievement Award
OC Community Resources/OC Public Libraries

READ/Orange County
Intergenerational Literacy Program

Begun in 1970, the NACo Annual Achievement Award recognizes innovative county government programs. Awards are given in a number of program categories such as arts & historic preservation, children & youth, community development, county administration, emergency management, environmental protection, health, human services, libraries, parks & recreation and volunteers.

"We are honored to have been recognized by NACo and given the opportunity to share the creative spirit of County Programs, which have been created to enhance and streamline the services we provide," said Chairman Bill Campbell, Board of Supervisors.

Introduction:

Research shows that young children who have not been read to begin school significantly behind their peers in reading and struggle with learning throughout their entire school experience, often never able to catch up.

Intergenerational Literacy is a component of an adult literacy program, READ/Orange County’s (READ/OC) Families-For-Literacy Program, that addresses this need with resources and activities for families with at least one child under age five. The Program partners with OC Public Libraries to provide several monthly family reading times where the entire family reads, plays, and learns together. It demonstrates the importance of early learning, pre-reading, and school readiness skills by offering parent workshops, staff training, and providing early learning and family literacy resources. Community partners include Head Start Centers, Family Resource Centers, the Orange Public Library, and the University of California at Irvine’s (UC Irvine) Jumpstart Corps.

In 2007, READ/OC, through Intergenerational Literacy, initiated a partnership with OC Public Libraries to assist families with children under age five become more aware of early learning and school readiness resources available at libraries. This effort continues as an integral component of library and literacy services, demonstrates the importance of early literacy skills, provides pre-reading, school-readiness and parent resources, and reinforces the concept of lifelong learning.

Age-appropriate books are given to children of families participating in the monthly Family Reading Times and parent workshops are offered at OC Public Libraries branches and other community partner programs. The new children’s books are provided through donations primarily from the Friends of READ/OC. Adults are also introduced to appropriate online and print resources that reinforce school-readiness, early literacy skills, and parenting skills.

Need for the Program:

Families-For-Literacy’s Intergenerational Literacy grew out of a need perceived by adult learners of READ/OC, their volunteer tutors, OC Public Libraries, and other similar library literacy programs throughout California to provide additional support for pre-reading and school readiness skills to adult learner families with children under five.

Research supports that children whose parents, caregivers, and other adult family members who have low literacy skills and have not been read to as a child, begin school behind their peers in reading and language skills, and struggle through their entire school experience, often never able to catch up. These children are less likely to have been read to, have few books and pre-reading materials and activities in the home, and often do not experience a vocabulary rich environment.

The need for parents and other adult family members to understand the importance of reading and school-readiness skills as essential for their children’s success in school has also been a priority of children’s librarians in OC Public Libraries, the Children and Families Commission of Orange County, local Family Resource Centers, and Head Start programs. Families-For-Literacy’s Intergenerational Literacy partners with these community organizations to provide programs, training, and resources, including age-appropriate books to appropriate Orange County families in need of resources.

Program Description:

Early literacy, school readiness skills, and resources have long been included as authentic learning materials in the Intergenerational Literacy component of READ/OC’s Families-For-Literacy Program. These resources and materials were also relevant to an early literacy, school readiness effort with OC Public Libraries, and have been useful in expanding partnerships with community programs supporting families with young children and school-readiness programs.

In Intergenerational Literacy, staff and volunteer tutors partner with OC Public Libraries staff, UC Irvine Jumpstart Corps staff and volunteers, and other community programs to provide several Family Reading Times and parent workshops each month at OC Public Libraries’ branches, Head Start Centers, and Family Resource Centers throughout the County. These programs focus on early literacy, school readiness, and pre-reading skills. They demonstrate simple, fun learning activities for the entire family to enjoy together.

Adult learners participating with READ/OC and other families from the community with young children are welcome to participate and experience that learning and fun can be synonymous. The Family Reading Times include a read aloud storytime, games, songs, crafts, and other activities that introduce and reinforce school readiness and pre-reading skills. The entire family, including older brothers and sisters and even grandparents, is encouraged to participate in activities.

Age-appropriate books are given to children of families participating in the monthly Family Reading Times and parent workshops are offered at OC Public Libraries branches and other community partner programs. The new children’s books are provided through donations primarily from the Friends of READ/OC. Adults are also introduced to appropriate online and print resources that reinforce school-readiness, early literacy skills, and parenting skills.

Results/Successes of the Program:

In the cities of Stanton and Garden Grove, OC Public Libraries and the Program staff and volunteers have been collaborating for the past five years with city programs, local school districts, Women, Infant and Children (WIC) centers, Boys & Girls Clubs, Head Start Centers, local churches, volunteer programs, and other County and community agencies to provide learning resources and programs for families. These resources include family resource fairs, parent workshops, homework assistance for students, English language and literacy classes for adults, teens and children, school readiness programs, health and nutrition education, and early child development programs. In all of these collaborative efforts, Families-For-Literacy’s Intergenerational Literacy has provided family literacy outreach, training, resources, and books to help families grow and learn together and enjoy a sense of community and literacy.

An additional benefit of the intergenerational Program is the opportunity to raise awareness of the issue of adult illiteracy and the tutoring services available through READ/OC to help adults in Orange County improve their literacy skills. In turn, participants become more productive, engaged, and confident parents, employees, and citizens.

Worthiness of an Award:

Intergenerational Literacy is a worthy recipient of the National Association of Counties Achievement Award. This Program enhances READ/OC by promoting lifelong learning and literacy for all ages, while supporting and promoting the valuable resources of OC Public Libraries and several community partnerships. Family reading times and parent workshops offer a family friendly environment where adults can reinforce learning and reading in the home while enjoying the experience of self-development, and of being a family that learns and reads together.

Furthermore, this Program provides these growing services with very little additional resources. It is a grassroots program by County staff and volunteers for County residents, building off and expanding on the strengths of existing County programs and services in an effort to help Orange County families grow and learn together. Intergenerational Literacy truly deserves recognition by the National Association of Counties for an Achievement Award.

Congratulations to the READ/OC Intergenerational Literacy Program for the distinguished honor of being selected as a recipient of the NACo 2011 Achievement Award!

Click here to find out how you can volunteer with READ/OC.