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Miami-Dade Public Library System
Many new citizens are unfamiliar with the services offered through public libraries in the U.S. Children’s services are a major focus of the library’s goal especially among recent immigrants, who represent an investment in the community’s future. Children’s services staff at the library system’s 48 branches have limited time and resources to conduct outreach visits to child care centers. Most child care centers are unable to arrange transportation to the library because of budget constraints and liability issues.
Jump Start provides high-quality picture book programs and complete story program kits. Through outreach visits and circulation of the kits, the program trains child care workers in early childhood literacy through exposure to books and other reading readiness and cognitive learning experiences. Each program kit contains at least 10 theme-based books, a puppet, a flannel board story, a finger play sheet, a music CD and craft ideas. This is a first step toward reaching children with whom the library has little or no contact, while also assisting their parents, teachers and caregivers to provide them access to the library system’s many offerings. Jump Start enables the library to offer this level of service as a solution to budget cuts and staff constraints experienced by both the library and the centers.
Jump Start began as a 4-year grant-funded project in 1992, serving only Head Start, Title XX centers and licensed home-based child care providers. There were 395 participants and 800 story program kits by the end of the 1996 fiscal budget year. Today Jump Start serves a total of 650 registered centers in addition to the original participants, public, private and church schools, parent co-ops and homeschoolers. The number of program kits has increased to a total of 1250. Of these 225 are for child care staff working exclusively with babies and toddlers. Staff shared information about the project with other library professionals, and the success of the program resulted in the growth of similar “Jump Start” programs at other library systems in Florida and the U.S.