Partnersin schoolreadiness


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CLA conference 2013

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  • First 5 Alameda County’s “Neighborhood Partnership” project is a grant specifically for libraries or park & recreation sites, designed to bring developmentally-specific school readiness experiences for infants, toddlers, preschoolers and their families,  to these neighborhood hubs.   The programs support parents as children’s first teachers and encourage families to practice school readiness activities at home.   Hayward Public Library; Oakland Public Library, and Alameda City Library (in partnership with Alameda Recreation and Park Department) were part of the 2010-2014 cohort of grantees, (also including City of Berkeley Recreation Division and City of Union City Leisure Services).   A significant goal of the partnership is capacity building and sustainability; and so while we are presenting to you today programs that got their start with grant funds,  we are sharing with you ideas that can be applied with a variety of resources levels at your library.
  • I was first approached about the grant by Pat Russi, my counterpart over at Alameda Recreation and Parks Dept. He’d attended the informational workshop and interpreted “neighborhood partnership” to mean “I need to find a partner.” Fortunately for him, we were the only team to apply and First 5 was charmed by the idea of an actual neighborhood partnership being funded, so our idea was greenlighted. Fortunately for First 5, we were more than just charming, we actually had a plan.
  • * Both ARPD’s program and the library’s program share a lot of commonalities. ARPD has a successful Tiny Tot and Small Fry program that offers a play-based preschool-like program to children ages 2-5. But they were finding that, increasingly, parents were using their program as a replacement for daycare and children were being enrolled in their program who weren’t ready for a classroom setting. * The library had an ongoing partnership with our local Head Start organization in which library volunteers go into the Head Start classrooms once a month, do a themed storytime, then leave a box loaded with books and manipulatives on the theme for the teacher to use until the next monthly visit. At this point we had a set of 25 themed boxes that were several years old and needed some love and attention – and a few that needed a complete overhaul. We also wanted the opportunity to set up something similar within ARPD’s Tiny Tot/Small Fry program.* So we were targeting the same age group. But ARPD needed a way into the lower income communities that Head Start serves and they also needed a way to make sure the kids they were serving were ready to work in a group setting. And AFL needed access to the families being served by ARPD, as well as the funds necessary to make our existing Library-in-a-Box program better.
  • * While we all dream of receiving grants where the grantees just give us the money and let us run with our ideas, never asking for feedback or any forms or reports, this was not one of those grants. There was a LOT of reporting required. In return, First 5 gave us access to all of their resources. While the Neighborhood Grant initiative was a new one, this was not First 5’s first time at the table. * Pat and I had big dreams. The councilors at First 5 talked us down, never killing our dreams, but shaping them into projects that could be accomplished within the parameters of the grant. They heard how we wanted to find ways to approach underserved communities in our city, particularly non-English speaking families and low-income families unwilling or unable to leave their immediate neighborhoods. They helped us identify gatekeepers and made their own staff available to help with translation issues.* Most helpful of all, they offered us the opportunity to train our own staff. We haven’t had any kind of professional development budget in Alameda in years. Thanks to our collaboration with First 5 we were able bring an Every Child Ready to Read trainer to Alameda and make the training available to library staff, ARPD staff, as well as to all of the Head Start instructors. We were also able to bring in a trainer who taught us ways to incorporate families with special needs children into our programs, as well as someone from the Children’s Learning Institute to talk with ARPD about CIRCLE time.
  • Once we had massaged all of our goals and challenges into working order, here’s how our version of the Neighborhood Partnership came out:ARPD created a kind of pre-pre-school program they called “Parent/Child Playgroups.” Thanks to grant funding, these programs were offered free of charge. These play-based sessions required parent/caregiver participation and included circle time, a literacy component, and activities designed to increase skills that kindergartens now require, like being able to use scissors, tie shoes, and identify shapes, numbers, and letters. At least once per series, a library representative would meet with the parents and talk about library programs and servicesWe were able to expand the Library-in-a-Box program. The ones that were already being used in the Head Start classrooms were overhauled and new volunteers were trained. New Boxes were created for use in the Tiny Tots/Small Frys program and the ARPD staff use their ECRR training when presenting the materials. We were also able to use grant funds to start personal libraries in the children’s homes by giving away books to Head Start and Tiny Tot kids three times a year.We were able to partner with other organizations, including local businesses who donated money and materials for take-home kits, Changing Gears who donated children’s balance bikes, and the Alameda Youth Collaborative comprised of local social agencies who came in and did parent talks about the different services available to Alameda families.
  • Now that the grant cycle is over, we’ve had to make some changes to our programs. ARPD has had to transition its free Parent/Child Playgroup into one that is fee-based. Although there is now a charge for families to participate, scholarships are available for lower-income families. One bright side to this is that ARPD is able to offer the playgroup as a bilingual Spanish/English program, helping us reach a segment of our community we’d had trouble connecting with before.As for the library, now that our Library-in-a-Box program has been reorganized to include newer and more developmentally appropriate books and materials, the Boxes have been added to the Tiny Tot/Small Frys program, and the library makes regular appearances at ARPD parent talks, you’d think our work was done. But no! We took the last of the book give-away monies and bought a TON of books. With this windfall, we’ve been able to start a 1000 Books Before Kindergarten program, an early literacy initiative that challenges families to read 1000 books together before their child enters Kindergarten. As families complete the program they receive a book to keep, much the way many libraries do at the end of summer reading programs – only this program runs all year long. We will also continue to pass out books to the Head Start and Tiny Tot classes as our supply of books lasts.Best of all, we are no longer afraid of collaboration, either inter-departmentally or with other community organizations. We had an incredibly successful Food for Fines program this summer in which we collaborated with the Alameda Food Bank, we have become an active participant in the Alameda Youth Collaborative, and we have convinced the Chief of Police and the Fire Chief to be Library-in-a-Box volunteer readers.
  • Our experience working through this grant process has ultimately made both organizations braver. We’re much more willing to try new things, to ask for help or suggestions, and to use each other’s strengths to the betterment of the community as a whole. By reaching past what First 5 thought it was looking for when developing this grant and making ours a true neighborhood partnership, we surprised ourselves in what we managed to achieve.
  • OPLs story has a slightly different trajectory from the Hayward’s and Alameda’s; as at the halfway point of our 4 year cycle, we decided to decline further funding and work on sustainability. Here’s our story.Our funded cycle had two main goals: to increase parent involvement in storytimes for children ages 0-5, and to increase staff expertise in providing them.
  • By the end of the first 2 years of the grant, we decided to complete Rockin Robin series, and transition the tools and ideas it had given us into our other services, and to all locations. We did not reapply for funds to continue the series, but drew up an MOU for an “unfunded partnership” that allowed us to continue to draw on First 5s trainings and consultation, and we made use of this to make some structural changes at all of our 17 branches; and to adjust our systems, procedures, and overall staff culture to better address the needs of 0-5 children and their caregivers. This is when things really started changing, and we did it all within existing means.
  • Several partnerships that were enhanced by our funded grant continue to develop. We now regularly do Blue Bag graduation events collaboratively with Raising a Reader, connecting us directly with graduating preschoolers who’ve been “trained” to borrow and return books! We are better connected with Children’s Hospital Oakland, and BANANAS, a local childcare referral and support organization, both of which are able to supply us with expert workshop presenters on topics that parents want to learn about, often subsidized. For Rockin Robins, we did outreach at WIC centers, and the detailed coaching that we received helped us dial-in techniques for “waiting room” outreach—here you see children’s librarian Amy Martin in a new partnership, “Read While You Wait,” at a Social Security Administration waiting room.
  • While we had had toddler and board book collections before, they were lost in the larger picture book collection.  Recreating spaces for the Rockin Robins series gave us a new model to make inviting and attractive zones for babies and toddlers, encouraging them and caregivers to linger, play, and socialize. We’ve continued to invest in all of our spaces, now recognizing particular kinds of furniture and toys as “essential” library furnishings, so that toy caddies, tiny chairs, puzzles, and breast-feeding pillows are seen as “legitimate” library supply or O&M purchases. Just as brochure displays, pencils and scrap paper, computer headphones and mouses, etc., are “essential” supplies for adult patrons to engage with library services and fulfill the mission of the library, these supplies for babies and toddlers do the same, for them, and for their parents. See what Demco and your other standard suppliers offer. Put it on your supply order along with pens, tape, etc., and just see what happens.
  • Some branches redesigned space in their childrens’ area. At one location, we turned an immobile, underused piece of furniture into a simple play kitchen. [We tried to remove this counter, but there’s no carpeting underneath so it’s become a back-burner major renovaton. But meanwhile, we emptied it of the very miscellaneous supplies and old reference books to convert it’s use from staff storage, to play. Each shelf is marked with a paper representation of its space in the kitchen…it is a perfect hiding hole for little kids that is still very visible for adults.]We’ve also rearranged setups with safety in mind- one location was able to cut down on running by blocking a long open aisle that led into the children’s area. In addition to helping manage behavior, it protects babies and toddlers. Easily movable furniture and rugs at other locations helps us convert multi-use children’s space into a baby-safe playtime area. [Or, baby safe-ish. Parent involvement continues to be key.]
  • Our new knowledge has given staff a greater awareness that children have the same rights as everyone else but that their needs are different so our approach to the rules is different. As a result, we’ve been able to incorporate this greater awareness into policy decisions. For instance, our “no eating in the library” guidelines have been amended to allow caregivers to feed their children 3 and under anywhere in the library (both food and drink). And this dreary and posted “guidelines for behavior” are now accompanied by this more colorful version, [click]
  • designed to give a user of ANY age some positive guidance in how to have a successful visit to the library. These proposed additions to our policy are so common sense that they been fully welcomed by staff. We think that most staff think this way already. We just weren’t saying it this way to our patrons. .
  • Our entire experience with First 5 allowed us to reach outside our usual mindset and think differently about connecting with our communities in ways that are still solidly under the umbrella of library service. Many libraries are doing this – the Family Place Libraries initiative from the IMLS providing probably the most well-known support. But many of the changes we made were very very simple, low to no cost. Our grant helped us get there, especially with the staff training, and to “legitimize” this framework. But for those of you out there who already have ideas and buy in, you may not need a grant to make substantial shift in the way your library spaces and services speak to your families.
  • Partnersin schoolreadiness

    1. 1. PARTNERS IN SCHOOL READINESS Early Childhood Applications for Library Service
    2. 2.
    4. 4. Hayward Unified School District 2% 2% 7% African-American 14% Asian, Not Hispanic 8% 7% 60% Filipino, Not Hispanic Hispanic or Latino of Any Race Pacific Islander, Not Hispanic White, Not Hispanic Two or More Races, Not Hispanic
    5. 5. Early Literacy Programming FY09 Programs By Language 0% 1% Spanish English Bilingual 99%
    6. 6. Community Partnerships Staff Training Updated Collections and Space Parent Education EvidenceBased Programming Bilingual Family Outreach Early Childhood Specialists
    7. 7. Programming Collections and Supplies Staff Development
    8. 8. Programming Child/Caregiver Learn and Play Groups Bilingual Stories Saturday Stories and Crafts
    9. 9. Collections and Supplies Over 300 new Spanish books New bilingual toys, puzzles, and games All outreach and marketing materials in Spanish and English
    10. 10. Staff Development College-Level Spanish courses and Rosetta Stone software Child development and early education trainings Trained 2 Spanish-Speaking paraprofessionals as program assistants
    11. 11. Early Literacy Programming FY13 English Spanish Bilingual 31% 46% 23%
    12. 12. A Brief Video…
    14. 14. ARPD & AFL: School Readiness Col·lab·o·ra·tion (definition): The act of working with another or others on a joint project.
    15. 15. Goals & Challenges Library side: • Revamp Library-in-a-Box program • Reach underserved population Parks side: • Create feeder program for Tiny Tots • Utilize an underused facility on the West End of Alameda
    16. 16. Collaborating with First 5 • Lessened the frustration of not reaching unattainable goals • Guided us through new outreach strategies • Offered us the opportunity to train our staff members
    17. 17. What We Ended Up With • Parent/Child playgroup • Expanded Libraryin-a-Box program • Expand “neighborhood partnership” into more of the neighborhood
    18. 18. Sustainability • Transition playgroup to fee-based • Morph book giveaway program into 1000 Books Before Kindergarten • Continue to collaborate
    20. 20. Rockin Robins Family Play Days • Expanded storytimes followed by play time • Workshops for parents with expert instructors (from “positive discipline” to “preschool hip hop”) • Take home tips and gifts to support activities at home
    21. 21. Systemwide Staff Development • Children’s librarians better informed of stages of child development and applications in storytime and other programs. • More staff aware of needs of children 0-5 • More staff contributing to storytime activities
    22. 22. Transition to Sustainable Service
    23. 23. Developing Partnerships
    24. 24. Storytimes Offered 2010 2013 All storytimes offered weekly Preschool 13 (3-5 yrs) some biweekly Toddler 6 14 (18 mos to 3 yrs) some biweekly 6 followed by “Playtime” Baby 0 5 all followed by “Playtime” (birth to 18 months) Family (all ages) 11 3 4
    25. 25. Collections and Supplies
    26. 26. Toys and Spaces
    27. 27. Rethinking Rules “Caregivers may feed their children 3 and under anywhere in the library.”
    28. 28. delight inspire inform
    29. 29. First 5 Resources Contact your county commission (click through the map in the link) to inquire about resources and partnership opportunities. Free kits for parents in several languages available to libraries: .html
    30. 30. Clio Hathaway, Youth Services Manager Hayward Public Library (510) 881-7948 Eva Volin, Supervising Children’s Librarian Alameda Free Library (510) 747-7707 Nina Lindsay, Supervising Librarian Children’s Services Oakland Public Library (510) 238-6706