During its first six months, the new school readiness home visitation program known as “Little School” has begun helping more than 30 families in downtown Allentown prepare their children to enter kindergarten.
Started in April by the non-profit Promise Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley and its partner, Community Services for Children, the bilingual program (known as “Escuelita” to Spanish-speaking residents) uses the nationally recognized “Parents as Teachers” curriculum to assist parents with small children in the Allentown Promise Neighborhood area of downtown Allentown.
Children ages 3, 4 and 5 are enrolled in the free program by their parents and receive visits by CSC employee Cassondra Lander for 12 sessions that are 1.5 hours long each. To date, 33 families in the nine-square-block neighborhood have enrolled in the program and 13 have already successfully completed it. On average it takes three months to complete the program.
She works with the parents to assess each child’s current developmental level and then creates a program specific to that child to help them advance their skills. During the visits Lander monitors the progress being made and recommends additional areas for improvement. She works with the parent and the child on key areas including family literacy, nutrition and healthy lifestyle education, health and developmental screenings, school readiness strategies, and help with kindergarten or preschool registration. Some early program facts include:
- 246 home visits completed to-date
- 29 children have been connected to a preschool or kindergarten program.
- 172 referrals made to other community providers such as WIC, Early Intervention, and Mental Health Services.
- An increase in the amount of activities the parent participates in with the child, and the amount he or she reads to their child, as reported by the parent. The number of parents who read daily with their child more than doubled by the end of the program.
- Improved developmental outcomes for children in all areas of development.
- 100% of families have created a supportive home literacy environment by the end of programming.
- Parents report that the program increased their knowledge about child development and behavior and boosted their confidence in their own abilities to teach their children.
Little School is funded through grants from Air Products, The Ed Donley Foundation, and The Rider Pool Foundation. The program can support up to 50 children in the neighborhood, and PNLV is still enrolling families. Interested parents can contact Cassondra Lander at Community Services for Children at 610-437-6000 ext. 2170 for more information.
About Promise Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley
Founded in 2007, Promise Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley unites residents and leaders from various sectors to ensure the success of children from birth thru career. Promise Neighborhoods accomplishes its work through place-based, collective impact efforts, like Allentown Promise Neighborhood. Promise Neighborhoods is a subsidiary of the United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley. Its office is located at 347 N. 8th Street in Downtown Allentown. For more information, visit their web site at www.PromiseNeighborhoodsLV.org.