Because of the continual attention to and nurturing of relationships with other agencies, Prospects has built a broad repertoire of current and potential partners. In 1997, The Junior League of Edmonton partnered with Prospects to implement the Books for Babies program over three years. This was established not as a stand alone program but as one of the continuum of family literacy programs being offered as a way of reaching parents when their children are still very young and as a way to draw them into other programs such as Rhymes that Bind and BOOKS. Book bags are distributed through the Health for Two network under the auspices of the Capital Health Authority. This program is still in its infancy. However, the financial and moral support of the Junior League is key in developing partnerships with organizations who work indirectly with families.
Another important partnership included collaboration with Success by 6, an initiative of United Way and other community groups. Success by 6 is a community-wide effort to promote collaborations among all sectors of the community to enable all children to succeed in school and in life. Leaders from a range of organizations within business, education, health, religious, volunteer and human services come together to develop the financial, human and physical resources required to address and support the needs of children and their families. Prospects worked closely with Success by 6 to implement a number of programs.
The Capital Health Authority also made a strong commitment to the Rhymes That Bind program and has provided financial, practical and moral support through its Action for Health project in 1997, and again in 1998. Administrative personnel within the Health Authority are currently developing evaluation criteria that show relationships between the family literacy programs they offer and physically healthier families,
As time progressed, Prospects was able to gather evidence with respect to the efficacy of its programs, due to its unique partnership with the University of Alberta. Ordinarily, it is very difficult for programs with limited resources to devote program and staff time to evaluation activities. With the help of graduate students, Prospects was able to keep records about the number of programs being offered, and to gather and tabulate data from pre- and post-survey questionnaires. A selection of programs was observed; short group interviews were conducted with participants and in-depth interviews were carried out with some program participants. Agency personnel also presented information about the effects of each program offered in their organization. As well, program facilitators wrote reflective notes about their sessions. Thus, a range of evaluative techniques provided strong data for provided detailed descriptions on program effectiveness, as required by the Office of the Commissioner of Services for Children and Families. Resources developed by Sharon Skage of the Family Literacy Action Group also proved invaluable as guides to evaluation, as well as community collaborations.
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