New Program Introduced to Help Close Literacy Gap for Children Ages 0-3

National Center for Family Literacy, Every Child Succeeds Bring Literacy Effort Directly to Homes

Thursday, August 30, 2007

By age 3, children living in poverty have heard approximately 30 million fewer words than their counterparts who live in higher income households led by professionals.

The National Center for Family Literacy (NCFL), headquartered in Louisville, Ky., and Every Child Succeeds (ECS), located in Greater Cincinnati, are joining efforts to close that gap. Literacy Begins at Home, a pilot project, is aimed to boost family literacy through in-home visits.

"Building literacy skills within the family is an essential part of being a parent," said Sharon Darling, president and founder of NCFL, a national organization dedicated to helping parents and children form a learning partnership that ends the cycle of poverty and low literacy.

ECS is a voluntary program that offers first-time mothers and their families support to help ensure an optimal start for their children. Since its inception in 1999, the program has served 12,000 families and made over 230,000 home visits. During these visits, parents are taught practical techniques on how to assist in their child's healthy physical, mental and emotional development. Darling said the ECS program was selected to pilot the literacy program because of its evidence-based approach to home visitation.

"The (home) visits that are offered by ECS are perfect for Literacy Begins at Home because the program will be able to reach families who have children ages 0-3 in the convenience of their homes, which will be more comfortable for them," she said. "By infusing family literacy into an existing, successful home-based program, families that are limited on time and know-how will still be able to greatly improve their child's literacy learning."

Literacy Begins at Home, in its first year, will create an intervention plan using an early language and literacy development curriculum to significantly improve language development, vocabulary and other literacy skills. ECS will implement the Literacy Begins at Home program through its existing home visit program, which uses a business model to deliver social services and has a record for delivering strong results.

Judith B. Van Ginkel, MD, president of ECS, said that the program will assist parents in teaching their children important literacy fundamentals. "ECS and NCFL together will develop literacy materials for children 0-3 that do not exist now," she said. "Further, there will be a focus on creating, writing and testing a strategy to teach home visitors to help families enrich their children's learning potential by addressing literacy at a young age," she said.

The sponsorship goal for the overall campaign is $230,000 over the next three years. Initial funding for the program is through two $75,000 donations provided by Toyota Engineering and Manufacturing North America, based in Erlanger, Ky. and by the Charles H. Dater Foundation, located in Cincinnati.

"We have been close partners with both NCFL and ECS for many years. When the need became apparent that a breakthrough early literacy curriculum was needed, it was an obvious and natural fit to get these two groups together," said Sig Huber of Toyota, who is also a member of the ECS Board of Directors and Executive Committee.

"This program promises wonderful opportunities for the children in this region. We hope that other corporations and individuals will join us in supporting this program so that it can reach its full potential and positively impact as many kids as possible," said Jack Frank of the Dater Foundation.

About NCFL

The National Center for Family Literacy, founded in 1989, is the worldwide leader in family literacy. More than 1 million families have made positive educational and economic gains as a result of NCFL's work, which includes training more than 150,000 teachers and thousands of volunteers. For more information, contact 1-877-FAMLIT-1.

About Every Child Succeeds

Every Child Succeeds (ECS), a nationally recognized evidence-based program in seven counties in Ohio and three counties in Kentucky began in 1999. Its three founding partners are Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, the United Way of Greater Cincinnati and the Community Action Agency. ECS provides home visitation to at-risk first-time mothers and their infants for three years. ECS programs decrease abuse and neglect, strengthen the parent -child relations, and promote an optimal environment for learning and emotional growth.

About Toyota

Toyota (NYSE:TM) established operations in North America in 1957 and will operate 15 manufacturing plants in North America by 2010. There are more than 1,700 Toyota, Lexus and Scion dealerships in North America which sold more than 2.8 million vehicles in 2006. Toyota directly employs over 41,000 in North America and its investment here is currently valued at more than $18.6 billion, including sales and manufacturing operations, research and development, financial services and design. Toyota's annual purchasing of parts, materials, goods and services from North American suppliers totals more than $28.5 billion.

Toyota currently produces 11 vehicles in North America, including the Avalon, Camry, Camry Hybrid, Corolla, Matrix, Sienna, Solara, Sequoia, Tacoma, Tundra and the Lexus RX 350. By 2010, Toyota will have the annual capacity to build approximately 2.2 million cars and trucks, 1.45 million engines and 600,000 automatic transmissions.

About the Charles H. Dater Foundation

The Charles H. Dater Foundation was founded in 1985. Through the years, the Foundation has made over 1,600 grants totaling more than $25 million to a wide range of organizations. It makes grants to non-profit organizations in the tri-state Greater Cincinnati area to carry out projects that benefit children and focus in the areas of arts / culture, education, healthcare, social services and other community needs. When making grants, Foundation directors ask the question, "How many children will feel the impact our grant?"

Cincinnati Children's, one of the top five children's hospitals in the nation according to Child magazine, is a 475-bed institution devoted to bringing the world the joy of healthier kids. Cincinnati Children's is dedicated to providing care that is timely, efficient, effective, family-centered, equitable and safe. For its efforts to transform the way health care is provided, Cincinnati Children's received the 2006 American Hospital Association-McKesson Quest for Quality Prize". Cincinnati Children's ranks second nationally among all pediatric centers in research grants from the National Institutes of Health and is a teaching affiliate of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. The Cincinnati Children's vision is to be the leader in improving child health.

Contact Information

Danielle Lewis, 513-636-9473,