2014-02-03 05.43.17

So long, drive-by storytimes… Hello, focus and impact!

Here Comes Kindergarten represents a fundamental shift in the way Richland Library approaches community outreach: Instead of working to maximize the number of people we serve throughout the county, in 2012 we began focusing our resources on those who need us most.

Two communities in Richland County are in especially great need, and Here Comes Kindergarten gives parents, caregivers and preschool teachers in these areas the skills and tools they need to get their children ready to succeed in school:

Eastover

  • Rural community
  • Average annual income of $20,114
  • 96.5% of children live below the poverty level

Eau Claire

  • Urban community
  • 45% of households generate an annual income less than $25,000
  • 47.7% of children live below the poverty level

In 2013, we added two communities in order to increase our impact by serving more parents and caregivers:

Northeast Columbia / Decker Boulevard

  • Richland County’s “International Corridor”
  • 12% of people speak Spanish at home
  • 26% of households generate an annual income less than $25,000

Columbia Housing Authority: Gonzales Gardens

  • Public housing community
  • Average annual income of $6,400
  • 30% of households have no income at all

During the 2013-2014 school year, Here Comes Kindergarten will become part of the library’s Learning Bridge initiative and will be held at:

  • Allen-Benedict Court (in partnership with the Columbia Housing Authority)
  • Windsor United Methodist Church (in partnership with Richland School District Two’s Skills for Life and Work program)
  • Harbison Gardens Apartments (as an extension of 2013’s Summer Stride program at Harbison West Elementary)
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What we’re doing…

The goal of Here Comes Kindergarten is to provide parents, caregivers and preschool teachers with the resources they need to get their children ready to succeed in school.

Parents and Caregivers receive:

  • monthly family literacy sessions
  • healthy dinners
  • parent incentives
  • support from parent partners
  • children’s books
  • school readiness toolkits

Preschool Teachers receive:

  • weekly classroom visits
  • ten week challenges
  • training materials
  • school readiness workshops
  • continuing education credit

Library Staff receives:

  • training materials
  • tips and tricks resource sharing
  • parent handouts
  • comprehensive program evaluation
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Is it working? Yes, it is!

In 2012 in Eastover and Eau Claire:

  • Fifty-nine families (nearly 175 people of all ages — from infants to grandparents) attended at least one family literacy session. This was almost double the number of people we originally hoped to serve.
  • More than 65% of participating families attended at least five out of seven family literacy sessions.
  • Parent partners were active and engaged with the recruiting and retention process.
  • 100% of preschool teachers reported learning new ways to read, sing, talk, play and write with their children.
  • Library staff members reported that the school readiness training and materials helped them feel more confident when sharing tips and resources with parents and caregivers.
  • Physical space for the family literacy sessions was our greatest challenge. Turnout has been so strong that it gets hard to squeeze everyone into the room!

In our ten week summer program at Gonzales Gardens in 2013:

  • Thirty-one families (103 people of all ages — from infants to grandparents) attended at least one family literacy session.
  • Nearly 50% of families attended at least seven out of ten family literacy sessions.
  • 100% of parents reported knowing more about getting their children ready for school and 78% said their children enjoy reading “a lot more” because of the program.
  • Parents reported significant increases in time spent reading, singing nursery rhymes, having long talks with their children, and more.
  • Preschoolers increased an average of 12 percentiles during our pilot of the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test.
  • Physical space for the family literacy sessions continued to be our greatest challenge.