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On the Steps for Baby Steps

We are used to counting steps on our FitBit® devices, but how often do we stop to think about the many steps it takes for a child to learn to read? Just like staying fit, learning to read is hard work and takes a lot of steps.  On Tuesday, June 6th, partner organizations from City’s First Readers gathered on the steps of City Hall to advocate for funding to support New York City’s earliest learners - children from birth through age five.

With the expansion of 3K on hold and research increasingly validating the importance of a child’s early years as laying the foundation for future learning, the collaborative work of these 17 organizations is more critical than ever. City’s First Readers is the New York City Council’s only early learning initiative. The partner organizations offer an array of programming, but all include a focus on early literacy, developing the capacity of children to be ready for formal instruction and to arrive at school already loving books.


This year the consortium is asking for enhanced funding to better serve our children and families. Included would be resources dedicated to increased distribution of print materials that support families at home and allow emerging readers to explore stories independently. Publishing costs have risen sharply since the pandemic. We are proud of our virtual programs but that requires adult participation. Books let children explore at their own pace - even if that means a teething infant gnawing on the corner of their favorite board book.


The request also asks for support for increased resources to better serve the needs of the migrant children arriving in New York City. In our commitment to meet families where they are, partners need additional translation and a revised perspective - how do you talk about “home” to children who have been rootless for a significant part of their lives? Similarly, the children entering PreK and 3K this fall spent the first years of their lives isolated by the pandemic. They will arrive at school without necessarily having experienced the preliminary socialization that is a prerequisite for the classroom learning environment. Both groups need additional support to achieve.


LINC staff, families, and CFR partners were delighted to engage with Councilmembers as they entered City Hall and expounded on their messages. A big thank you to all who recognized the importance of this funding and climbed the steps of City Hall for early literacy on June 6.

LINC staff and parents join CFR partners and councilmembers to advocate at City Hall. Photo: Christina Baute.

To learn more about City's First Readers, visit: www.citysfirstreaders.org.





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