The Clay County Family Literacy Program was awarded a $50,000 grant from the Ruth Lily Philanthropic Foundation through the Barbara Bush Foundation.
"This grant only validates our program and the work that we are continuing to do in the community," Linking Education to Adults, Adolescents and Preschoolers (LEAAP) Center Coordinator Mary Yelton told The Brazil Times.
The Family Literacy Program began in 2002 and gives parents without a high school diploma or GED, with children ages 6-weeks to 5-years, the opportunity to attend Adult Basic Education (ABE)/General Educational Development GED classes or attend Cumberland Academy, Northview High School or Clay City High School to complete the requirements for a high school diploma.
While the parents are working on improving their education, the children are in preschool and developmentally appropriate childcare.
"Although most parents are working to pass the GED Test or earn a high school diploma, all of the parents strive to improve their basic and life skills so that they can help their children," Yelton said. "Whether it is with homework, reading more to their children, budget and managing their money better, demonstrating the importance of education to their families, increasing their employment opportunities, and being successful if they choose to participate in additional training and college classes."
As well as attending classes, parents also attend parent education classes and participate in parent/child together time (PACT), which can include interactive literacy activities such as reading, crafts and appropriate educational games.
"During the parent education classes parents discuss ways to improve their childrens behavior and other parenting issues," Yelton said. "(Purdue Extension Consumer Family Science Educator Clay and Owen counties) Peggy Davis and (Family Nutrition Program Assistant for Clay and Owen counties) Donna Black also provide classes on food preparation, nutrition and parenting."
Yelton believes in order for children to succeed in the world, it is important for their parents to have the opportunity to improve their own level of education.
"Parents are the child's first and most important teacher," she said. "Parents can prepare their children to be successful in school and support them in school."
The grant will be used to pay for bus drivers, childcare staff and coordination.
"We really have a great staff that supports all the education programs at LEAAP," she said.
There have been 289 parents and children helped through the Clay County Family Literacy Program, and with 40 families currently on the waiting list, Yelton believes education is the key to success for Clay County.
"In order to attract future businesses and industry we need an educated workforce," she said. "There is definitely a need here in Clay County."
For more information or to make a donation, call (812) 446-2536 or stop by the LEAAP Center at 501 E. Jackson St., Brazil.