As Prospects evaluated the progress of its family literacy programs, it realized it would have to spend more time with agency personnel prior to the initiation of a program to explore how a prospective family literacy program could blend conceptually with an agencys own goals. Prospects would also need to articulate clearly its understanding of literacy development and, in particular, the role of oral language in that development.
Although relationships with agencies have generally been beneficial and positive, they have not been problem-free. In one instance a collaborating social worker did not seem to understand that a BOOKS facilitator would not be able to release personal information that participants shared during the program. While the social worker felt she had a right to know, the facilitator was not willing to break the confidentiality rule which had been established. In another example, because both the agency and Prospects had not clearly articulated their respective goals, a family literacy program received less than satisfactory attention from agency personnel. One organization made only limited efforts to recruit participants. In other cases, initial promises with respect to the provision of childcare, refreshments or room preparation were nor kept. Prospects began to accept the perspective that the time and effort spent with an agency prior to the initiation of a program was time well spent.
Looking back to the beginnings in 1993, the range of Prospects family literacy programs has been more comprehensive than expected at that time. The magnitude of effort required to develop and maintain collaborations with other agencies could not be fully appreciated. Originally, it was thought that funding might be the most difficult aspect to be address; however, sources for funding were not a major problem. On the other hand, success breeds success. Family Literacy in Edmonton has been and continues to be a success story. By the end of 1997, more than 1,500 individuals had participated in Family Literacy in Edmonton programs. With that success comes new challenges.
How can Prospects continue to offer the number and range of programs it currently offers? How can a comparatively small organization continue to meet the constant requests for workshops, resources, trained personnel and the training of personnel, in addition to its other comprehensive adult literacy programs? In response to these questions, Prospects has taken on a new challenge of establishing a Centre for Family Literacy in Edmonton. With the financial support of the National Literacy Secretariat, the Centre will be provincial in terms of resources, information, training and research, and local in terms of programming. Over the next two years, a needs assessment, feasibility study, cost analysis and fund-raising strategy will be implemented to make this dream a reality. Akey to the success of this new project will be the strengthening of existing partnerships and the development of strong new ones. The story will continue. New enthusiasm and many new challenges are anticipated as the next chapter of the Family Literacy In Edmonton story unfolds.
For more information about Prospects Literacy Association, please contact:
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