Last year, the need for investment in children’s earliest years became even more apparent. The child care industry has been hanging on by a thread, and parents of young children are running on empty as they juggle virtual learning, child care, jobs, and so much more. While 2020 was not the year that any of us had planned, at LENA we’ve seen incredible adaptability, innovation, and perseverance from our team and our partners across the country.
We are especially grateful to our philanthropic partners for doubling down on their commitment to early talk by supporting the launch of LENA programs in 28 communities, from Honolulu to Boise to Chattanooga. Through our philanthropic partnerships, LENA awarded more than $525,000 in launch grants in 2020. We’d love to introduce you to our newest partners!
For many LENA partners, their mission and day-to-day work revolves around early literacy and school readiness within their local community. LENA programs are an easy-to-implement, scalable way for these partners to take a data-driven approach to early literacy and obtain measurable outcomes for the children they serve.
Anchorage Public Library (Anchorage, Alaska), in partnership with the Municipality of Anchorage, has launched LENA Start to support their early literacy work. With only 33% of Anchorage students entering kindergarten ready to learn, LENA Start is helping Anchorage parents prepare their children for school and life.
El Dorado County Library (Placerville, Calif.) is the home of First 5 El Dorado’s Community Hubs to facilitate early childhood community services. LENA programs are being used for evidence-based dialogic early literacy instruction at home care provider sites and with families to reduce isolation, increase self-efficacy, and support social-emotional learning.
In the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, For Oak Cliff provides culturally responsive initiatives to create a culture of education through 2Gen approaches, like LENA Start. Through local partnerships, they are also able to provide food, books, and masks to participating families.
On the other side of Dallas, Mesquite ISD partners with local businesses and other community partners in their ReadPlayTalk initiative with a goal of having all students reading on grade level by third grade. By implementing LENA Start, they will be able to more effectively educate parents and families on the importance of the “talk” portion of ReadPlayTalk.
Evanston/Skokie School District 65 in Illinois has a strategic priority to improve educational outcomes for all children by eliminating racial predictability and inequalities in achievement. By implementing LENA Grow in early childhood classrooms and LENA Start parent groups with the library, parents and caregivers will gain the skills to measurably increase quality language interactions with children.
To ensure that children in Milwaukee are ready to learn by Kindergarten, the City established the Office of Early Childhood Initiatives to educate parents on brain development and the benefits of talking, reading, and singing with children; increase access to high-quality early learning childcare; support an early childhood career path; and recommend policies that support early learning. With LENA Start groups, families will participate in evidence-based programming to enrich their home language environments.
The Department of Speech Pathology at Salus University is adopting LENA Start in their speech-language institute. Graduate students and clinical faculty will use the program to work with parents and caregivers in naturalistic environments for the prevention and early identification of communication disorders.
As a Head Start and Early Head Start provider in Western Connecticut, Connecticut Institute For Communities delivers a unified birth-to-school continuum of high-quality early childhood education, as well as a comprehensive family development program. By using LENA Grow in their Early Head Start classrooms, they will have a mechanism for assessing their language environment in order to support teachers with constructive, strengths-based, data-informed feedback that directly relates to teacher-child interactions.
We also have partners who utilize LENA programs to support their work across a broader geographic area. By utilizing LENA regionally, more children can be served with common outcomes measurements and the ability to report at both the local and regional levels for different stakeholders.
Read Aloud Delaware coordinates a statewide reading program, matching volunteers to child care centers to read books to children. As they adapted to operating virtually, LENA Start became a key way for them to continue promoting childhood literacy and to incorporate their volunteers by assigning volunteers to families in LENA and conducting virtual readings.
In Texas, quality improvement coaching for child care providers in the Texas Rising Stars (TRS) program is overseen by regional Workforce Solutions boards, several of whom use LENA Grow as a tool to boost interaction. This allows for the program to be used in classrooms at centers across the region who need extra support on early language and interaction. Workforce Solutions for the Heart of Texas will begin using LENA Grow coaching in early 2021.
These partnerships demonstrate the breadth and depth of how LENA programs can integrate into existing infrastructures in all types of communities and organizations. You can read more about the grants made in the first half of the year here. To learn more about how you can leverage LENA programs in your work, visit our Implement LENA page.
And if you’d like to learn more about joining our philanthropic partners in funding LENA programs in your community, or at a national level, you can learn more here or contact Katherine.