Access, participation and retention
A quality family literacy program offers the program in central and safe
locations that have all relevant resources and supports. Sensitive
staff create a learning environment where participants of all ages
attend for as long as it takes to reach their goals.
Ask yourself how these statements apply to your program.
Our family literacy program…
- may be offered in several different locations that are accessible to families
with different needs, interests and capabilities.
These locations may include:
- warm, inviting places with a comfortable, welcoming atmosphere where
families look forward to coming
- places that families themselves have identified to staff
- rooms in agencies where families already come to receive other service
- rooms in places of worship that are centrally located and close to the homes
of families for whom the program has been designed
- shelters where homeless or abused families may be housed
- community meeting rooms in high-rise apartment buildings
- sheltered areas in a park during the summer, where families already go
- libraries and schools to work with families who want to help their schoolaged
- childcare centres where parents already bring their very young children
- family resource centres that may not have the trained staff or funds to
provide a program themselves, but can provide space and some materials
- community centres with public swimming pools and basketball courts
where parents with young children wait for older children to have lessons or
free play time
- malls or grocery stores where families normally shop
- places where families with toddlers and strollers can comfortably access on
foot, without having to take buses or subways or drive
- places with lots of parking for those who drive
- places that are accessible to participants in wheelchairs or with other
- places that offer both indoor and outdoor spaces where young children can
move freely to play and learn
- places with facilities that would allow the program to expand and evolve to
include other activities that support literacy (such as cooking)
- always consults with potential participant groups about the suitability and
accessibility of a proposed location before setting up a program there.
- helps with transportation by providing free bus tickets for families who could
not attend otherwise, or by helping to arrange rides.
- ensures that any snow or ice on walkways is cleared before families arrive for
programs held during the winter months.
- ensures there is secure space at the program site to leave a number of
strollers, boots and wet coats.
- provides free quality child-care during times of the program when adults need
to meet separately.
- is offered at times of the day and week that participants have identified as
being best for them.
- provides regular opportunities for participants to give feedback about how
accessible the program is in terms of their particular needs.
- provides incentives such as free nutritional snacks for participants.
- provides relevant take-home materials for participants, as well as good
quality books and educational toys to borrow.
- uses creative retention strategies to encourage families to take ownership of
different aspects of the program. For example, participants may:
- take turns bringing food to share that they have prepared themselves11 (with
expenses reimbursed by the agency if possible)
- share stories, songs and rhymes from their countries of origin or in their
- network, make new friends or develop support groups.
- encourages families to continue to attend by regularly meeting to discuss
the progress they are making toward their goals, based on their needs
- expects the staff to telephone families who register but do not attend, or
whenever there may be a concern, to offer encouragement or support as
- does not attempt to meet all the needs of participants, but provides up-to-date
information about relevant and local support services.
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