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Thu, Feb. 20

Group gets grant for family literacy program

If a need exists for a program, you must avoid any discouragement from an initial turn down and keep plugging for it.

That was the philosophy of Joan Cathey, director of the TASK (Talents and Achievements of School Aged Kids) Society, when she applied for a family literacy grant.

Last year, a TASK application to the state Department of Education was rejected.

Application for funding was made again this year and approved.

"The state had family literacy grant money and federal money last year, so two separate applications were needed for similar programs," said Karen Liersch, director of adult education and family literacy/GED with the DOE.

"The federal money was transferred to the adult education division, which administers the program for the state and rolled over into one fund to make it easier and less of a bureaucratic headache for local providers applying for grants."

TASK has been awarded a $135,000 grant that may be renewed annually for an additional three years to implement the Even Start Family Literacy Program in Mohave County.

It will be one of 22 such programs in Arizona, Cathey said.

A letter to Cathey from the DOE dated July 3 made notice of the grant award.

"The purpose of the program is to bring together a core group," Cathey said.

"We want to provide basic education to the parent, a safe haven for children to develop and thrive in, and we want the parent to learn that he or she is the most important teacher in their child's life."

TASK will provide child development and childcare for families participating in adult basic education/English as a second language classes at Mohave Community College.

Representatives of TASK also will visit the homes of clients enrolled in the program to ensure compliance with parent and child together (PACT) time agreed to by the student.

In addition to MCC, Cathey enlisted the Kingman Elementary School District (now part of the Kingman Unified School District) as a coordination and linkage partner in the program.

The KESD will make space available at Cerbat Elementary School for a preschool for young children of adults participating in the program.

"Part of family literacy is to bring the parent into the child development center to play with their child," she said.

Catholic Social Services was to provide parenting education for the program, but is not accepting any new contracts, Cathey said.

She is talking with other agencies to meet that need.

Enrollment will begin in August.

Students will attend adult education classes five days per week for four hours per day at MCC for 38 weeks.

As part of the enrollment agreement, the student must donate two hours of time per week to help out as needed at the college, local schools or in the child care program, Cathey said.

Transportation will be provided for those families in need.

Family meal times including breakfast and lunch with parent and child also are being worked out, she said.

Liersch said the renewal of the grant each year will be based on program performance and funding availability.

"Family literacy programs are doing a great job and one of the factors considered in awarding grants was geographic areas not presently served," Liersch said.

"For a couple of years, we've looked to serve northwestern Arizona so we were pleased to have a number of applications from that area.

Those organizations receiving the grants have demonstrated they understand the importance of collaborations in building and running a successful program and the complexity of putting it all together."

Liersch said the DOE received 31 Family Literacy applications with 21 being funded this fiscal year.

Parents interested in learning more about the program may contact the TASK Society at 757-8227 or call the adult basic education department at MCC at 757-4331 ext.


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