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Early Learning Express

The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County

Innovation Leader: Kathy Scahill, Literacy & Homework Support, Kathy.Scahill@cincinnatilibrary.org

Problem Statement

In Hamilton County, Type B in-home providers care for more than 6,000 children. The certification process for a Type B provider does not include any training or education on developing the literacy skills of the children in their care. Low-income families often use Type B childcare because they accept subsidized childcare vouchers and are more convenient, flexible and affordable than the larger day care facilities. Fewer than 25% of low-income children in Hamilton County participate in childcare or preschool programs where quality standards are defined or measured.

Innovation

The Early Learning Express builds on the successful Shared Reading program that teaches the dialogic reading method to parents and day care providers in larger day care facilities. The Early Learning Express provides 3 in-home visits to Type B childcare providers. They receive training in dialogic reading and effective literacy activities for children ages birth to 5. On each visit, providers receive free materials (resource books, children’s books, puppets, and musical instruments) to create a literacy rich environment. On the second visit, a neighborhood children’s librarian accompanies the program coordinator to provide a story time for the children that models the dialogic reading method. As part of the visits, providers received suggestions on incorporating six pre-reading skills into their daily activities with children and information about resources available at the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.

Progress

Major findings from the evaluation conducted by University of Cincinnati indicated: Use of project materials/handouts and dialogic reading increased knowledge about the availability of library resources. There was a gain in knowledge about literacy activities with 54% of caregivers indicating they now visit their public library and 58% of caregivers now teach literacy skillls (up from 22% prior to the project), and 84% now report using props (such as puppets, musical instruments, and CDs) as part of the literacy process. Caregivers reported choosing more age-appropriate and interesting books for children and noted that children were more active in their learning as they picked out books. Eighty-eight percent of caregivers reported giving parents information on early literacy and communicating with parents on a regular basis. All providers who responded to the third survey reported that they now used dialogic reading in their daily routines. One hundred percent of the participants expressed appreciation for the resources, materials and support they received to create a more stimulating literacy environment. The State Library of Ohio has selected the Early Learning Express as an exemplary Library Services and Technology Act project for 2009.