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Child Care & After-School Programs

Land-Grant Success Stories in Competency Training

Child care programs improve competencies of staff, quality of programs, skills of families, and community resources and policies for early care and education.

Child Care Provider Training

Parenting Education Related to Early Care and Education

Child Care Provider Training

1. Title of Program: Caring4Kids

State: University of Nevada Cooperative Extension

Program Description: Caring4Kids is a series of training modules that include videos, self-study guides, and tests. The modules, which count toward training hours required by the state, are free and available at 50 Nevada public libraries and Cooperative Extension, university, and county child care licensing offices. Interested child care providers can check out the modules, read the self-study guide, and watch a video at their convenience. The study guide can be downloaded from the Caring4Kids Web site. A module on cognitive development is available and approved for three hours of child care training. The second module, Food Safety in Child Care Settings, will be distributed to the same locations as well as marketed by direct mail to licensed caregivers statewide. A third module, being developed as an Orientation to Childcare in Nevada, introduces new caregivers to licensing regulations, professional development opportunities, and resources in early care and education.

Accomplishments and Impacts: During the first six months of the release of the first training module, it was checked out in the public libraries 110 times; during the second month, 125 times. These figures do not include multiple uses during the checkouts. Nearly 100 phone calls on the child care training were received during the first year of release. One-third of the calls were from home child care providers, more than half from center-based providers, and 16 percent from agencies. Comments from caregivers indicate they appreciate being able to get their training in an independent study environment because it is difficult for them to attend formal training sessions.

Contact: Crystal Swank, Child Care Specialist
University of Nevada Cooperative Extension
Mail Stop 140
Reno , NV 89557
Phone: 775-784-6490
Fax: 775-784-6493
E-mail: cswank@unr.edu

2. Title of Program: The Better Kid Care Project-Satellite Training Series

State: Michigan

Program Description: The Better Kid Care Project has been offered in 48 rural and urban Michigan counties since 1995. Within one eight- month period, 652 child care providers were trained.

As a result of providers attending this free satellite training series, they obtain knowledge and skills needed to provide high-quality care for infants and toddlers. The public receives the benefit of child care providers who have gone through a quality training curriculum.

Cooperative Extension staff used a variety of educational techniques to meet the needs of the local provider. In some counties, the live broadcast of the session was shown. Others used a recorded version at other times and locations. Others partnered with local agencies to create mini-conferences or retreats.

Accomplishments and Impacts: Facilitators at the downlink sites reported that providers learned appropriate child care practices and increased awareness on a wide variety of topics relating to the child care profession. They have also gained a system of support by creating a provider network among Better Kid Care Project participants.

Contact: Lisa McGlone
Associate Program Leader
Michigan State University Extension
240 Agriculture Hall
East Lansing, MI 48824-1039
Phone: 517-432-7652
Fax: 517-353-4846
E-mail: mcglonel@msue.msu.edu

3. Title of Program: GEMS: Growing through Education Means Success

State: Missouri

Program Description: With funding support from the Missouri Department of Health, Bureau of Child Care, a 36-hour educational program was developed for entry-level child care workers. The program is comprised of a set of curriculum modules that address child development (birth through school-age and mixed-age groups), first aid and CPR, positive guidance and supervision, working with families, and accessing community resources. The content was cross-referenced against Child Development Associate functional areas and Missouri 's recently adopted core competency areas for child care professionals to guarantee that program completion would count toward other career development activities.

During pilot implementation, an extensive program evaluation was conducted with the 84 providers enrolled in the program (43 center providers and 41 home providers; 42 program group, and 42 control group). Participants completed an extensive written survey and were naturalistically observed in their programs before and after the educational program.

Sixty-six approved instructors were trained with the GEMS Basic Early Care and Education Orientation and provided input and feedback on curriculum content and program delivery. Additional GEMS modules (including infant and toddler development, partnering with parents, positive guidance, and supervision) are planned.

Contact: Sara Gable, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor and State Specialist
Human Development and Family Studies Extension
306 Gentry Hall
University of Missouri
Columbia, MO 65211
Phone: 573-882-4628
Fax: 573-884-5550
E-mail: GableS@missouri.edu

4. Title of Program: Child Care Provider Training

State: Maryland

Program Description: Each year, Maryland Cooperative Extension (MCE) conducts single workshops and conferences for child care professionals across the state. The workshops count for continuing education clock hours. Training is available in all county offices and the city of Baltimore , but most child care training is conducted by 80 percent of the county offices. Each year, about 1,800 providers are reached through training by MCE. Center and family child care providers are reached, although family child care providers are the biggest audience. In addition to receiving clock hours toward maintenance of regulated status, participants can count their hours toward the Maryland Child Care credential, which offers reward and recognition to advancing levels of professional development.

Accomplishments and Impacts: Evaluations of individual workshops and conferences consistently receive high ratings from participants for satisfaction with the content and delivery. MCE trainings are popular with child care providers for their access, low cost, and highly competent trainers. Assessments also reveal individual workshops and conferences to be rated by more than half of the participants to be better than or much better than other training in which they participate. Evaluations show that most participants report expected positive change in their interactions with children and parents of the children in their care; participants are also more motivated to stay in child care and are interested in taking additional training. Each of these aspects is related to higher quality care for children.

Contact: Susan Walker, Ph.D.
Extension Family Life Specialist
Maryland Cooperative Extension, University of Maryland
1204 Marie Mount Hall
College Park, MD 20742
Phone: 301-405-8339
Fax: 301-314-9161
E-mail: sw141@umail.umd.edu

5. Title of Program: Penn State Better Kid Care Program

State: Pennsylvania

Program Description: Designed to meet the needs of rural and urban, home-based and center-based child care providers, the Penn State University Better Kid Care Program has offered a variety of educational opportunities for child care providers, including direct trainings, distance education via video and Web learning, newsletters and other publications, and full-day conferences. More than 50 satellite workshops have been produced and broadcast in the past 7 years on a variety of topics including child development, curriculum planning, behavioral issues, stress reduction, and management for center directors.

The interactive satellite workshops feature high-quality child care providers and experts in the early education field. Video footage from child care settings enables child care providers to see the modeling of developmentally appropriate practices. Handouts are developed at the state level and distributed to local Cooperative Extension offices for use at each workshop. In a 2-hour period, the satellite trainings include discussion and modeling of best practices, on-site discussion facilitated by local professional staff, handouts on each workshop topic, live question-and-answer period with workshop guests and, if needed, follow up to questions via the Better Kid Care telephone help line.

Five to eight satellite programs have been offered each year since the program began in 1995. Child care providers have consistently given the Better Kid Care satellite workshops high ratings. In the past year, more than 80 percent of the satellite participants indicated the quality and usefulness of these trainings was high to very high on a five-point rating scale. Ninety-five percent of the workshop attendees said they would recommend these trainings to others.

Accomplishments and Impacts: Approximately 70 percent of the counties in Pennsylvania downlink each satellite workshop to an audience of more than 800 child care providers across the state. Nationally, Better Kid Care satellite trainings are downlinked in 46 other states, with a viewing audience of approximately 50,000 attendees per workshop. Each broadcast is taped and used by other institutions and agencies, such as community colleges, resource and referral agencies, extension offices, school districts, and public television.

Contact: James E. Van Horn
Professor of Rural Sociology
Penn State University
253 Easterly Parkway
State College, PA 16801
Phone: 814-863-0339
Fax: 814-865-7893
E-mail: jev@psu.edu

6. Title of Program: First Steps: A Training Series for New Child Care Teachers and Directors

State: Tennessee

Program Description: In Tennessee all newly hired child care teachers are required to participate in a 2-hour preservice training within the first 30 days of employment, and all newly hired directors are required to take a 4-hour preservice training. The University of Tennessee Extension Service was asked by The Tennessee Department of Human Services (TDHS) to develop and to teach a curriculum to meet these requirements.

The 2-hour teacher curriculum has three sections: Ages and stages of development (infants through preschoolers), developmentally appropriate practices, and health/safety. The 4-hour director curriculum includes sections on parent involvement, communication, staff/parent relationships, conflict resolution, and interviewing skills. The program is so effective, the TDHS gives credit for the training to ALL child care teachers and directors, not just newly hired employees.

Accomplishments and Impacts: Over a 1½-year period, more than 15,000 child care providers and 1,500 directors were trained through the First Steps project. Results via pre/post-tests show an average knowledge gain of 45 percent for all participants, and more than 90 percent reported the training as “excellent” or “good.”

Contact: Dr. Matthew Devereaux
Assistant Professor/Child Development Specialist
The University of Tennessee Agricultural Extension Service
119 Morgan Hall
Knoxville, TN 37996
Phone: 865-974-7193
Fax: 865-974-3234
E-mail: mdevereaux@utk.edu

7. Title of Program: The Best Care

State: Arkansas

Program Description: Child care provider training that meets both the minimum licensing requirements and training criteria development by the Arkansas Early Childhood Professional Development System is conducted by the Arkansas Extension Service. Teaching strategies include traditional face-to-face workshops in the local community, compressed interactive video (CIV), and Internet courses. Extension faculty who train the trainers, and those who deliver the training to providers, are approved trainers of the Arkansas Professional Development System.

The Best Care is a 10-hour training program that uses a multidisciplinary curriculum developed by a team of extension specialists. It provides training in 1) resource management, 2) nutrition, 3) health and safety, and 4) child development.

Best Care Myths and Magic is 5-hour compressed interactive video (CIV) training. CIV takes recognized experts in child growth and development to multiple rural audiences simultaneously. It also features locally facilitated activities to engage participants. Three 1-hour 40-minute modules were presented, a total of 5 hours of instruction. The sessions were: 1) “Principles of Guidance,” 2) “Promoting Emotional Health in Young Children,” and 3) “Environmental Factors that Impact Children's Development.”

Best Care Connected is a 5-hour program offered via the Internet. The course focuses on the business management aspects of operating a child care program. The topics include: Selecting Professional Advisers, Policies and Contracts, and Marketing Your Child Care Program. Best Care Connected has online activities and quizzes to ensure child care providers are participating fully in the course.

Accomplishments and Impacts: In 2002, Extension agents delivered the Best Care training program in 82 sessions totaling 277 hours of training to 1,820 child care providers at 42 sites. Best Care Myths and Magic was broadcast to six sites and reached 241 child care providers. Best Care Connected had 246 participants enroll for the Internet course, and 79 completed the course by the deadline. Combining all delivery modes, a total of 2,307 child care providers participated in The Best Care program at 85 sessions totaling 297 hours of training (the hours spent by those who worked individually on the Web-based course are not included in this total).

Contact: Traci A. Johnston, Child Care Assistant
University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service
2301 South University, P.O. Box 391
Little Rock, Arkansas 72203
Phone: 501-671-2364
Fax: 501-671-2294
E-mail: tjohnston@uaex.edu

8. Title of Program: The Whole Child

State: Wisconsin

Program Description: Approximately 170,000 children are in licensed child care settings in Wisconsin , which range from in-home family providers to large facilities with numerous staff. Most of these child care providers have high school diplomas and have completed the state-mandated 40- or 80-hour coursework. Child care personnel must complete 25 hours of continuing education each year. Completing this requirement is a challenge, especially for providers in rural areas.

The Whole Child video series was highly rated by the participants, and evaluations showed they gained knowledge. Child care providers enjoyed coming together in 14 different counties to view the videos and discuss child development with each other.

Accomplishments and Impact: Using a 5-point rating scale, they answered three questions about each episode. Average scores were consistently 4.0 or above, indicating positive responses on each of the four episodes for each of the three questions. Based on caregivers' responses, this child care training program probably had a direct positive effect on the quality of care provided by these individuals.

Wisconsin Public Television and UW-Extension Family Living Programs teamed up to improve the quality of child care by providing The Whole Child to child care professionals throughout Wisconsin. By working together, child care professionals throughout Wisconsin had the opportunity to learn up-to-date child development information.

Contact: Mary Roach, Ph.D.
Child Development Specialist
Early Childhood Excellence Initiative
UW-Extension
432 N. Lake Street, Room 301
Madison, WI 53706
Phone: 608-262-6041
Fax: 608-263-7969
E-mail: mroach@facstaff.wisc.edu
Web: http://www.uwex.edu/ces/flp/ece

9. Title of Program: New York State School-Age Care Credential: Professional Development for SAC Providers

State: New York

Program Description: Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE), the New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS), and New York State School-Age Care Coalition (NYSSACC) have engaged in a partnership to create, pilot, and implement the New York State School-Age Care (SAC) Credential. They are supported by Human Development faculty from Cornell University . This credential is a much-needed response to the lack of long-term staff and career development in school-age care and to help maintain the idea that working in school-age care programs requires a professional commitment to children and families.

The New York State SAC Credential is a staff development model that not only emphasizes quality care and child development issues, but also professionalism, communication, and managerial skills. A typical preparation program includes 120 classroom hours and requires the participants to document their competencies with a portfolio and resource file. They are observed in their work setting by an adviser who offers helpful feedback, a parent representative, and the credential endorser assigned to them. All of this information is collected at a Local Assessment Team (LAT) meeting at which the candidate, the adviser, the parent representative, and the endorser discuss and vote on each of the competencies prescribed by the credential.

Accomplishments and Impacts: In 2000, several host agencies were selected according to location and commitment to the SAC Credential program. These agencies conducted credential preparation classes under the supervision of the credential team (CCE, OCFS, and NYSSACC).

A corps of 48 SAC Credential Endorsers from across the state was trained to observe and conduct the LAT meetings. An endorser is assigned to a candidate who applies for a credential visit. The program hopes to add another 15-20 endorsers to this group annually.

OCFS further increased the importance of this credential by adding it to the list of background requirements for site coordinators in the most recent New York State School-Age Care regulations.

Just over 100 candidates have earned credentials through the Continuing Education Program at Cornell University . There are 50 candidates within the system, either working in a classroom setting, through individual training, or within a community college.

The need for more classes has expanded the number of host agencies. This year the number of hosts is expected to double and thus provide more opportunities for individuals to participate.

Many graduates from the New York State SAC Credential program became site coordinators, OCFS registrars for their counties, and even advisers and endorsers for new candidates.

Contact: Moncrieff Cochran, Professor
Cornell University
Department of Human Development
MVR Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853-4401
Phone: 607-255-2260
E-mail: mmc6@cornell.edu

10. Title of Program: Child Care Nevada: Training for Early Childhood Caregivers That Works

State : University of Nevada Cooperative Extension (UNCE)

Situation: Many Nevada child care givers are undereducated and ill prepared to deal with daily interactions with children. University of Nevada, Las Vegas ' Nevada Institute for Children, reports that 41 percent of child care providers in the state have a high school diploma or less. A recent statewide survey of caregivers found that less than 12 percent of class participants had two or more years of child development or early childhood education. Working Mother Magazine ranked Nevada 47th in the nation in the quality of child care. Children of working parents are typically in the care of others for the major part of each working day, and research indicates the quality of the care received is directly related to the level of education and training of child care providers. Quality care is vital for healthy development of young children. Needs assessment indicates a continued, and perhaps increased, need for child care provider education. Increasing the education of providers can enhance the quality of care received by thousands of children. In addition, people who work with children, if properly trained, can help stop child abuse, a major issue in Nevada. UNCE is an integral part of increasing the availability of caregiver education statewide.

Accomplishments and Impacts: In the past 15 years, more than 6,000 caregivers, each of whom provides care for from 4 to 17 children, have participated in 3-hour workshops. Each of the more than 6,000 caregivers received a certificate for 3 hours of in-service early childhood education. Based on participant reports, the potential number of infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and school-age children affected annually by the Child Care Nevada workshops is 6,656. Pre- and posttests were designed to measure changes in knowledge for each workshop. Paired t-tests (N=2,720) indicate significant gains in knowledge regarding developmentally appropriate activities and child development (p<.05 or higher) for each of the workshops. A 1- to 2-month follow-up evaluation has been done for three different workshops. Participants were randomly selected and completed a brief telephone or mailed survey. Follow-up surveys (N = 250) indicate that from 50 percent to 90 percent of the participants have taught young children at least one activity learned through a workshop, indicating a behavior change for caregivers. Almost half of those responding to the follow-up evaluations have shared curriculum materials with four to five other caregivers. Additionally, in a recent independently conducted workforce study, more than half the center and home caregivers in Nevada reported participating in UNCE workshops.

Contact: Jackie Reilly, Youth Development Specialist
University of Nevada Cooperative Extension
5305 Mill St.
Reno, NV 89520
Phone: 775-784-4848,
Fax: 775-784-4881
E-mail: reillyj@unce.unr.edu

Sally Martin, Ph.D., CFLE, Professor
Department of Human Development and Family Studies
University of Nevada, Mail Stop 404
Reno, NV 89557
Phone: 775-784-7009
Fax: 775-784-6493
E-mail: smartin@unr.nevada.edu

PARENTING EDUCATION RELATED TO EARLY CARE AND EDUCATION 

1. Title of Program: Positive Parenting (MN-PE-1)

State: Minnesota

Program Description: The primary components of Positive Parenting are:

1) Positive Parenting and Positive Parenting II —companion video-based parent education curricula of 12 lessons, for use with parents of preschool and early-elementary age children;

2) Positive Parenting of Teens —an eight-lesson, video-based parent education curriculum for use with parents of early adolescents (aged 10-15); and

3) The Growing Season: A Parent's Guide to Positive Parenting of Teens —an eight-unit guide, with a video and a booklet, intended for at-home use by parents of early adolescents. The curricula include video segments, lesson guides, parent handouts, learning aids, reference lists, and evaluation tools.

4) A curriculum, called Love & Limits, is designed for low-income parents.

Positive Parenting is designed for use in parent education or parent support groups and is flexible since each lesson is an independent unit that can be used alone and in any sequence. Positive Parenting emphasizes both nurturance and nonviolent, behavior-oriented discipline. Nurturance involves love, warmth, interest, involvement, and communication. Discipline includes two components: 1) behavioral control—limit-setting, monitoring, and limit-enforcement; and 2) psychological autonomy—granting youth respect, privacy, and individuality. Parents are also reached through a series of recorded telephone messages on positive parenting topics (accessible through the University of Minnesota Extension Services “Info-U” 880 number), a quarterly electronic newsletter, and the dissemination of positive parenting messages via the media, special campaigns, “no-hit” days, grocery-cart messages, soda pop cans, displays, and many other means.

 Accomplishments and Impact: Evaluation of parent education classes using Positive Parenting curricula shows high levels of satisfaction among educators and parent participants. Nearly 90 percent of respondents report “significant” behavior changes. In addition, community leaders in an experimental county (Goodhue County) indicate that the public awareness campaign has resulted in increased awareness of positive parenting messages, especially the negative impacts of physical punishment.

 As of Summer 2001, more than 3,000 Positive Parenting curricula were distributed to 44 states and 4 other countries. Based on random sample interviews with participants, an estimated 300,000 parents have been reached by programs using these materials. Pre- and post-impact measures from Positive Parenting and Positive Parenting II show statistically significant levels of change in the recommended direction for 28 of 36 measures. The largest changes were reductions in the use of physical punishment and “scolding and yelling.” Increased use of recommended nurturance and discipline techniques was also reported—including calming techniques, listening, modeling, “catching child being good,” explaining, greater patience, and redirection. In addition to behavior change on the part of parents, data indicate that children were better behaved, more cooperative; more responsible and helpful; happier, calmer; listening better; less aggressive or violent; displaying a better “attitude”; and more confident. Limited evaluation data for Positive Parenting of Teens indicate similar positive results, with statistically significant levels of change in the desired direction for 21 of 34 measures.

Contacts: Rose Allen Renee Obrecht- Como
Title: Extension Educator Curricula Coordinator,
Extension Youth & Family Development

Institution: University of Minnesota Extension Service, University of Minnesota
Ramsey County College of Human Ecology
Address: 2020 White Bear Avenue 64 McNeal Hall
1985 Buford Avenue
City/State/Zip : St. Paul, MN 55109 St. Paul, MN 55108-6142
Phone: 651-704-2080 612-624-1791
Fax: 651-704-2081 612-625-6285
E-mail : allen027@umn.edu or robrecht@umn.edu

2. Title of Program: Grandparents Raising Grandchildren: Implications for Professionals and Agencies Video Satellite Program

State: Wisconsin

Program Description: Grandparents raising grandchildren face major changes and challenges. Most professionals need more information to better serve these grandparents and address emerging social and educational concerns.

In January 1999, UW-Extension, Family Living Programs, Purdue Cooperative Extension, and the American Association of Retired Persons developed a video satellite program viewed by more than 3,200 professionals from various family agencies and organizations at 286 sites throughout the United States and Canada.

The satellite program focused on how communities can work together to support grandparents as they raise their grandchildren.

In Wisconsin, 219 participants explored core issues facing grandparents at 26 different sites. Nearly 9 in 10 (89.5 percent) participants rated the program as excellent or good.

Accomplishments and Impacts: More than 86 percent of participants said they better understand issues and concerns facing grandparents raising their grandchildren. Eighty-four percent better understand programs, resources, and services available to support grandparents raising grandchildren.

  • 71 percent plan to use resources mentioned in the program.
  • 64 percent plan to expand services or programs for grandparents
  • 30 percent plan to start a support group for grandparents raising grandchildren.

The video conference showed how professionals worked with grandparents to bring about change. Nearly two-thirds (66 percent) of participants in Wisconsin made a commitment to collaborate to address local needs and concerns of grandparents raising grandchildren. Thirty-eight percent will provide educational programs, and 13 percent will seek funding for programs and services. Seventeen percent of participants planned to get involved in a statewide network or task force, and eight people plan to work on changing state laws that create barriers for grandparents raising their grandchildren.

Contact: Mary Brintnall-Peterson, Ph.D.
Program Specialist in Aging
University of Wisconsin-Extension
432 N. Lake Street, Rm. 301
Madison, WI 53706
Phone: 608-262-8083
Fax: 608-265-0787
E-mail: mary.brintnall-peterson@ces.uwex.edu

3. Title of Program: Building Strong Families: Parenting Young Children

 State: Michigan

Building Strong Families: Parenting Young Children is a parent education program for diverse, limited-resource parents with children from birth to 36 months. The curriculum includes multicultural, cartoon-style flipcharts, real-life videotapes, experiential learning activities, recall concept sheets, and instructor training manuals. It has four units: How Kids Develop, Helping Kids Behave, Playing to Learn, and Smart Living. The curriculum is delivered by paraprofessionals through home visits and small group sessions. As a result of this program, it is hoped that parents will learn to respond to children in ways that are appropriate to their development and create positive, safe environments for children.

Program Accomplishments and Impacts: There are 2,821 participants in the Building Strong Families (BSF) evaluation database. Pre-and posttest data on parenting behaviors were collected using the Parenting Behavior Assessment (PBA). The PBA uses parental self-report to assess changes. Statistical analysis using paired T-tests showed that parents made changes in their parenting behaviors (p<.000) after participating in the BSF program. Specific changes were found in the following areas :

  • Increased parenting behaviors related to promotion of language development (p<.000)
  • Increased parenting behaviors related to social, cognitive, and physical development (p<.000)
  • Increased parenting behaviors related to the development of child's self-help skills (p<.000)
  • Increased use of positive discipline techniques (p<.000)
  • Increased use of nurturing behaviors (p<.000)

Contact: Dawn Contreras, Ph.D.

Program Leader
240 Agriculture Hall
East Lansing , MI 48824
Phone: 517-353-9102
Fax: 517-353-4846
E-mail: contrera@msue.msu.edu.

4. Title of Program: The Nevada Literacy Program

State: University of Nevada Cooperative Extension (UNCE)

Situation: Reading to a child is part of giving that child a healthy start. If parents and caregivers can be educated to establish daily reading-to-children activities, it will promote school readiness and foster positive parent/child and caregiver/child interaction. Literacy is a major concern in Nevada . One quarter of Nevadans, nearly 300,000 youth and adults, are illiterate. They cannot read or write well enough to do simple tasks, such as filling out a job application or reading a newspaper. The foundation for literacy is laid during the preschool years by parents who read to their children, who have books and magazines at home, and who model reading and writing. A child between ages one and six who shares a book with an adult for 15 minutes a day will have had 455 hours of individual reading instruction before entering school. This reading time fosters children's interest in reading and builds confidence, while at the same time eliminating some of the consequences of poor literacy skills including grade retention, school failure, school dropout, delinquency, unemployment, and underemployment. Parents who speak Spanish as their primary language cannot always teach their preschoolers English because of limited language skills. Breaking this cycle is important to ensure both Spanish- and English-speaking preschoolers have reading skills to succeed. A 1999 needs assessment showed that more than 60 percent of vulnerable parents in Las Vegas were not reading to their children.

Program Description: Family Storyteller is a multi-agency, family literacy project aimed at increasing the amount and quality of time parents and young children spend together in literacy activities. The program is designed for families with preschoolers and beginning readers, especially parents who may have limited language skills and few children's books at home. The 6-week, parent-child interactive reading program – first developed by UNCE in western Nevada – includes parent-child workshops, free books, and materials to complete literacy-extending activities at home. Curriculum materials include: (1) introductory material and individual suggestions for facilitators; (2) planning and marketing guides; (3) detailed workshop lessons for each meeting and handout masters, including descriptions of take-home packets, leader guides, home activity guides for families (also available in Spanish); (4) forms and suggested procedures for program evaluation; (5) a videotape containing six segments – one for each lesson – of parents reading books with their children; and (6) one sample set of home activity packets for families (materials and information available through contact persons).* In Las Vegas, UNCE built on its successful Children's Books for Healthy Families/Libros de Ninos Para Familias Saludables, which developed family strengths by teaching reading methods and providing culturally appropriate reading books for vulnerable Spanish- and English-speaking parents and children. Staff was trained to present Family Storyteller, with programs starting in summer 2001.

Accomplishments and Impacts: To assess the overall impact of Family Storyteller, seven new evaluation techniques were developed, which require few reading and writing skills to complete. In western Nevada , 525 parents have rated the major components of the workshops either 4 or 5 on a scale from 1 to 5 (extremely satisfied). Pre- and posttest workshop assessments conducted at sessions 1 and 6 revealed statistically significant (dependent t-tests, p < .05) increases in the: amount of time parents read with children, number of days parents and children read books together, number of days children asked to be read to, number of days children looked at books or magazines alone, how much parents enjoyed reading with children, and how much children enjoyed being read to by their parents. In-depth pre- and posttest workshop assessments were completed with a selected number of participants ( N =45) and revealed that children had significant gains (dependent t-tests, p < .05) in their understanding of basic book reading skills (as measured by the Concepts of Print ). Parents improved (dependent t-tests, p < .05) in their reported use of key interactive reading skills: letting children pick out books, sitting close with their children; talking about the cover of the book; having children guess what happens next; having children name pictures, using expression in their voices, pointing out new words connecting the story to real life, reading slowly, asking children what happened; having children retell the story; and setting a regular reading time. More than 130 English and 19 Spanish copies of the curriculum were purchased by agencies outside Nevada . Family Storyteller received an Outstanding Community Literacy Program award from the Nevada Literacy Coalition. An article on the program was published in Journal of Extension and various Nevada publications. In just six months of Family Storyteller programming in Las Vegas , more than 1,000 participants (about one-third Hispanic) were reached, and more than 3,000 books were distributed. A final 2-year evaluation of nearly 2,500 families in Children's Books for Healthy Families revealed: group classes that participated in pre- and posttests showed 89 percent gained significant knowledge; home visits showed a significant improvement in “neither slaps nor spanks child” as well as an increase of children's books in the home. More than 200 follow-up telephone surveys showed results similar to the parent-child reading impacts achieved by Family Storyteller in western Nevada.

5. Title of Curriculum/Program: The Lunch Box Program—Packing Healthy Take-Along Lunches for Preschool Children

State: California

Situation: Approximately 6,000 parents with preschool children in San Luis Obispo County enroll their children in child care programs that require parents to send lunches to school. A Cooperative Extension observational study of 528 lunches parents sent to school with their children found:

Food Groups:

60 percent of the lunches contained three or less food groups. Food groups were represented in lunches as follows:

  • 16 percent of the lunches included a vegetable.
  • 69 percent of the lunches included a fruit or 100 percent fruit juice.
  • 75 percent included a dairy product (includes milk served at lunch by schools).
  • 77 percent included a protein food.
  • 91 percent included a grain.
  • Low-nutrient Foods:
  • 81 percent of the lunches contained low-nutrient foods. The average lunch contained 1.4 low-nutrient foods. The most common low-nutrient foods were:
  • Fruit Drinks—in 44 percent of lunches
  • Jelly—in 36 percent of lunches
  • Chips—in 20 percent of lunches
  • Fruit Snacks/Fruit Rolls—in 17 percent of lunches
  • Cookies/Granola Bars—in 15 percent of lunches

Safety: 23 percent of the lunches could become unsafe by lunchtime from foodborne bacteria.

A written survey completed by 92 parents who send lunches with their preschool children found that 88 percent of parents believe they pack nutritious, safe lunches. Parents indicated challenges when packing children's lunches including: 36 percent--honoring child's food preferences, 35 percent--including variety, 21 percent--nutrition, and 20 percent--time.

These results suggest an educational opportunity for parents to learn about nutrition and food safety needs of their children and how take-along lunches can contribute to children's health.

Program Description: The target population was parents who pack lunches for their children to take to preschool. This population closely represents the overall demographics of San Luis Obispo County (77 percent white; 17 percent Hispanic, 3 percent Asian, 2 percent black, and 1 percent Native American). Participating preschools were selected from throughout the county and with different fee requirements in an effort to reach most socioeconomic groups, with the exception of very low-income families, who would participate in government child care.

Most parents enroll their children in preschools to provide care for their children while parents are employed. Parents report the many demands on their lives leave little time to plan lunches for their children. Yet parents want to provide for the health and well-being of their children today and as they grow. Therefore, educational information that parents can read as their schedules allow, that provides information on the nutritional and food safety needs of young children, and has easy ways to meet these needs would be welcomed by parents.

Accomplishments and Impacts: A 3-month assessment was conducted at two preschools in San Luis Obispo County to determine program effectiveness in helping parents pack more nutritious and safer lunches. Thirty-two parents participated and signed a human subject research consent form, but were not told when the evaluation would occur or at what point in the evaluation process lunches would be assessed. The educational program consisted of parents receiving a different brochure from The Lunch Box series once a week for 5 weeks at their children's preschools. All parents at the preschools received the brochures, but only the lunches sent by parents who signed consent forms were assessed. Assessments occurred at three points: before parents received the brochures, 1 week after receiving the fifth brochure, and 1 month after receiving the fifth brochure. No other nutrition or food safety information was provided to parents by the preschools during the assessment period. The following statistically significant changes (p < .05) occurred in the lunches parents packed for their children after receiving The Lunch Box brochures: 1) more lunches included whole-grain breads, 2) more lunches contained protein sources, 3) more lunches were packed safely, and 4) lunches contained fewer low-nutrient foods.

Contact: Shirley Peterson
Nutrition, Family & Consumer Sciences Extension Adviser
2156 Sierra Way #C
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401-4556
Phone: 805-781-5951
Fax: 805-781-4316
E-mail: sspeterson@ucdavis.edu

6. Title of Curriculum/Program: Fathers Reading Every Day (FRED)

State: Texas

Program Description: FRED is a 4-week program developed by Texas Cooperative Extension to encourage fathers, grandfathers, and other positive male models to read to their children daily. The program had two goals: to increase father involvement in children's literacy development and to improve the quality of father-child relationships. Expected benefits are consistent with these goals. To implement the program, extension agents partner with interested community organizations. Participants completed the program by:

  • attending educational events,
  • receiving program resources,
  • reading to children daily (15 min./day for first 2 weeks; 30 min./day last 2 weeks), and recording information in a reading log,
  • attending events with their children, and
  • completing a pre- and posttest evaluation.

Accomplishments and Impacts: Results from nine counties that have implemented and evaluated FRED using the pre- and posttest instrument show that participants completing the program (N = 123) spent an average of 9.0 hours reading with their children and averaged 39.6 books over the four-week period. Paired t-tests indicate significant increases from pre- to posttest in a number of areas, including the amount of time fathers spent reading to their children, t (122) = 10.08, p <.001; number of books read during a typical week, t (122) = 9.01, p <.001; level of involvement in their children's education, t (122) = 2.79, p <.01; amount of time spent with their children, t (122) = 3.74, p <.001; quality of time spent with their children, t (122) = 3.05, p <.01; quality of the relationship with their children, t (122) = 2.18, p <.05; and level of satisfaction with themselves as parents, t (122) = 2.20, p <.05.

The following results were summarized from fathers' post-only responses:

  • 50.4 percent (62 out of 123) reported that FRED “Got them reading to their child every day.”
  • 63.4 percent (78 out of 123) reported that FRED “Increased the time I spent with my child.”
  • 62.6 percent (77 out of 123) reported that FRED “Improved the quality of the time I spent with my child.”
  • 60.2 percent (74 out of 123) reported that FRED “Increased my satisfaction level as a parent.”
  • 63.4 percent (78 out of 123) reported that FRED “Improved my relationship with my child.”

Fathers overwhelming indicated that the program helped them to find time to spend with their children in a productive and rewarding activity. In open-ended responses, many fathers indicated that they noted improvements in their children's vocabulary, reading ability, and interest in books as a result of participating in FRED. Below are a few examples of open-ended responses from participants:

“The thing I liked most about FRED was the excitement my child had and anticipation of the reading time.” “It created an avenue for me to spend some quality time with my daughter.” “FRED got me more involved in their reading…the discussions I had with them with reference to the reading matter greatly improved their comprehension of story plot and word vocabulary.”

Contact: Stephen Green, Ph.D.; Assistant Professor & Extension Child
Development Specialist;
Texas Cooperative Extension,
The Texas A&M University System;
311 History Building; 2251 TAMU;
College Station, TX 77845-2251
Phone: 979-458-4224
Fax: 979-845-6496
E-mail: s-green@tamu.edu.

 

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