The Barbara Bush Foundation awarded a $50,000 grant through the Ruth Lily Philanthropic Foundation to the program, which will continue the Clay County Family Literacy Program.
"We are very excited," Linking Education to Adults, Adolescents and Preschoolers (LEAAP) Center Coordinator Mary Yelton said. "This is a need in the community."
Part of a four-year Federal Even Start Family Literacy Program, the Family Literacy Program began in 2002 and it allows for Adult Basic Education (ABE)/ General Educational Development (GED) and high school classes for parents as well as interactive literacy activities for the families, valuable early childhood education for children, ages 6 weeks to 5 years, and parent education.
The Family Literacy Program is designed to break the cycle of poverty by educating the parents, preparing them for the workforce, engaging in Parent and Child Together Time (PACT) and early childhood education.
"Poverty usually makes it tough for parents to provide the early education and support that children need," Yelton said. "Because they must concentrate on their family's needs for survival such as food, clothing, and housing."
Congress condensed funds for the Even Start Program in 2006. At that time Indiana would not allow programs to reapply for aide. Since then, Clay Community Schools has maintained the Family Literacy Program and its services through the help of donations and other services within the community.
"Children who have the opportunity to participate in quality preschool are more likely to graduate and become employed," Yelton said. "Involving the parents in their children's education also increases the benefits for the children and, of course, improving the education level of the parents enables them to improve their employment opportunities."
The program is working. Since November 2002, the Family Literacy Program has served 110 families. Of these, 39 people have attained their GED diplomas, seven high school diplomas, 54 became employed, 18 entered college and 17 students remained in high school.
The program also received a $10,000 Good Works Indiana Strengthening Families Grant and an $18,000 Children's Bureau Grant.
"Research demonstrates that quality early childhood education prepares children for school, leads to higher achievement, less grade retention, higher graduation rates, and adult workers who have skills that sustain a growing economy," Yelton said. "I have read that quality preschool can save $8-$17 for every tax dollar spent on early childhood programs because of less crime and less need for public assistance."
Currently there are 55 families on the list.
For more information on the program contact the LEAAP Center at 446-2536.