Implementation of Family
It is therefore heartening to remember that the nature of family literacy programs minimizes these potential obstacles. Family literacy is the integration and contextualization of existing services. It is not necessarily added as another program to an already full docket of programs and services. And, family literacy programs are tailored to meet the needs of each unique setting. Every facility has something upon which to build, whether it be church services, a GED program, or family visitation days.
Perhaps most importantly, inmate resistance to participating in education will likely be negated. The draw of spending quality, interactive time with their children overrides inmates fear or disregard of educational experiences. To the participants, family literacy is a nonthreatening opportunity for themselves and their families. And, this opportunity ideally leads to the inmates return to the community as a contributor. The potential impact of family literacy on learner, teacher, correctional officer, administrator, family and community is boundless.
The challenge of implementing family literacy programming is offset by its reliance on respect among the various players. Respect is important for the smooth operation of any setting, but particularly so for the highly stressful setting of a correctional facility. Respect for the program, for the facility, for families, etc. must be encouraged. Empowerment, or providing opportunities to make decisions, is one way in which to display respect for others. To the extent possible or practical, learners, teachers, correctional officers, administrators, and families should be allowed to voice their wishes and concerns.
I was particularly
struck by several incidents during the course of the three task force meetings
that bespoke of young fathers valuing of reading. Whenever a
childrens book was read aloud to the group of inmates, most listened with
delight. One inmate reacted with pure delight when the librarian read a book
that his sister had read to him as a child. It was quite clear that this book
was a legacy, and one that he might well wish to pass on to his own
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