I thank you, Councilmember Cabán, for chairing this hearing. I thank the members of the committee and the members who have put forth legislation. We at Literacy, Inc. commend the Council for tackling the challenges of childcare from many directions; as this array of legislation suggests, it is a multi-faceted problem. Please consider one more dimension: early literacy training for licensed family daycare providers.
I am Eliana Godoy, Deputy Director of Literacy, Inc. or LINC, an acronym that also describes what we do - we link families with young children to literacy resources in their own community. We also facilitate the Council’s only early literacy initiative, City’s First Readers.
NYC is missing a golden opportunity. By not including early literacy training as part of the licensing process for licensed family daycare providers, we leave a vacuum where we could, in fact, have deep impact. Licensed family daycare providers are required to take training that, quite rightly, emphasizes the safety and well-being of children in their care. But unlike their counterparts at HeadStarts or ACS daycare centers, they are not trained in early literacy.
“Child care offered in a provider's own home is the most common child care arrangement for young children from low-income families” (according to Bringing It All Home, a report from The Center for New York City Affairs at the New School). Those most likely to use a family daycare provider are:
Parents whose income is too high for HeadStart programs
Parents whose income is too low for private daycare centers
Parents who are unable to research other daycare options in the community, often because of language or cultural barriers.
90% of brain development takes place during their first five years, but children in family daycare settings may not receive the same stimulation as children whose caregivers are trained in early literacy and education..
It is not an expensive proposition to help licensed family daycare providers turn their small-business settings into word-rich environments. Provider training, kits of low tech materials to label household items in multiple languages, age appropriate books and related materials, music and art supplies, and significantly, supporting family daycare providers’ clients - parents and grandparents - with materials and workshops aligned with the daycare resources. It’s a simple and effective way to improve the exposure to those pre-reading experiences that prepare children for learning to read. We know that children who arrive at school with these experiences begin their educational journey with a distinct advantage.
Pay parity, increased access, affordability, high quality - these are all important aspects of childcare. But please use your oversight and legislative powers to add early literacy training for licensed family daycare providers to that list. LINC is ready to partner with you to make it happen. I will follow up with your staff. Again, thank you.
Deputy Director, Literacy Inc. (LINC) firstname.lastname@example.org
About Literacy, INC. (LINC)
Literacy, Inc.(LINC) was founded in 1996 to improve the literacy outcomes of children living in some of NYC’s highest poverty neighborhoods, communities where schools have not succeeded, schools where students do not acquire grade level proficiency in time to transition from “learning to read” to “reading to learn.” LINC’s founder, Mimi Levin Lieber, was a sociologist with 15 years of public service on the NYS Board of Regents. She understood from two perspectives, educator and sociologist, the importance of reading as a foundation for progress in school, and in life, as well as the challenges that children in high-poverty neighborhoods face in acquiring literacy. In founding LINC, she was determined to address those challenges and improve literacy outcomes by mobilizing from within a community to support emerging readers. As a sociologist, she understood that people are a community's greatest asset.
Since its founding, LINC has viewed literacy as a social justice issue and our programming as a tool to achieve educational justice, itself the foundation of social justice. Our programs transform families; our families transform communities.
In this context, LINC works with children, birth through five, and their families to counteract the dearth of attention paid to early literacy. We create multilingual, culturally responsive programming sharing the joy of reading with children while demonstrating for their parents how to best promote literacy at home. We empower parents to support their children and their neighborhoods, making reading visible and valued as a community practice. We also train parents to advocate for literacy to their neighbors and peers. Parents in our programs are more likely to engage in behaviors that research tells us will help their children become life-long readers: while only 41% of non-LINC parents read to their children five or more days a week, 75% of parents who attend multiple LINC programs do so. 72% of LINC parents have established a routine of reading together at bedtime compared to only 26% of others, and 89% of LINC parents engage during reading by asking questions about pictures, contrasted with only 61% of others. 95% of the parents who attended our programs know the importance of reading to their child.
LINC is the facilitating partner for five collaborative early literacy initiatives: City’s First Readers (a citywide effort funded by the NYC City Council with 17 partners, including all library systems) and three “NYCReads” collaboratives with deep concentrations in South Jamaica, East New York, and East Harlem that are the result of The Pinkerton Foundation and Carmel Hill Fund’s leadership and support. LINC is in the first year of a cross sector collective impact partnership with New York Presbyterian Hospital and Citizens Committee for Children, Northern Manhattan Early Childhood Collaborative. LINC also participates in a collective impact early education initiative led by The Staten Island Foundation.