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How the Family Child Care Program Gives PreK Kids a ‘Head Start’

early childhood reading

Editor’s Note: This story was published originally by Minnesota Reading Corps.

Literacy skills aren’t just built in schools and no one knows this better than members serving with Minnesota Reading Corps in Family Child Care.

“The Family Child Care program gives children a head start before they start kindergarten,” explains Nou Thao, Program Pilots Manager. “It’s a unique service opportunity that gets our members out of the classroom and even more involved in the community.”

Instead of being placed at a school, members serving in with Minnesota Reading Corps in Family Child Care, travel between three sites where they deliver early literacy interventions and support to children in licensed family child care settings. Being part of this innovative project means building relationships with children, families and child care providers.

For Aurora Fields, Minnesota Reading Corps in Family Child Care was an opportunity to experience something new. “I got my experience with elementary students last year,” she says. “This year it’s about the little kids!”

During the week she travels between three family child care sites visiting two each morning. Aurora’s sites serve children who are five years old and younger – including infants and toddlers. As a mom, she especially loves the opportunity to learn interventions she can use with her own children at home.

Depending on the day and the site, Aurora may lead whole group, small group or one-on-one sessions in partnership with the licensed family child care provider. Her days with Reading Corps are typically wrapped up by early afternoon – which gives her the time and flexibility to focus on her family.

“Growing up, I had trouble with reading and comprehension,” Aurora says. “The support I needed wasn’t really available to me and it showed.” Minnesota Reading Corps in Family Child Care helps reach children during their first stages of development to address issues early.

Intentional and fun literacy instruction gives children the opportunity to talk, read, write and play. “I know that what we do as tutors works,” Aurora says. “It keeps kids engaged because they’re having fun while learning.”

Aurora shares that the best part of service is building relationships, and also notes it’s importance. “If you’re constantly surrounded by caring adults in your life, you can learn better. A child who is struggling really needs to know that someone cares. I’m glad I can be that person.”

Most Minnesota Reading Corps in Family Child Care members serve 25 hours a week and receive a stipend of $638 every two weeks. There are also emerging opportunities to serve fewer than 25 hours! Members also earn an education award (up to $3,047) and qualify for federal student loan forbearance and interest repayment.

There is currently a need for tutors in Minneapolis and Saint Paul. If you are interested in learning more, please visit readingandmath.net or contact Nou Thao at nou.thao@servetogrow.org.

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