It feels like a drastic understatement to say that 2020 has been a challenging year. While it is easy to be overwhelmed by our current circumstances, we know that standing up for children and families is important now more than ever. Our team at LENA has quickly adapted to remote work, providing support and resources to our partners for virtual program delivery, and adjusting program models to best support communities as they deal with extreme uncertainty.
Our funding partners have also stepped up to the plate, increasing support for continued program development at LENA and providing launch grants to community partners. In the month of June, we were able to make awards to 12 communities to launch LENA programs. These organizations are all unique but share our mission to accelerate language development in children birth to three, in order to improve their cognitive, social, and emotional health and to close opportunity gaps. We are pleased to introduce you to our newest LENA partners!
We are very excited to begin a state-level partnership with Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children. IDAEYC advocates for legislation that increases child care provider and early educators’ qualifications and provides training for child care providers across the state to support children’s early education experience. Child care consultants statewide will be able to use LENA Grow coaching to support their work with QRIS participants. The data and feedback received will also be used to demonstrate to funders, legislators, and policy makers that trained educators are essential for the health and well-being of young children.
We will also be bringing LENA programs to agencies that work on county-wide initiatives in Iowa, Florida, South Carolina, Colorado, and California.
- In Florida, the Early Learning Coalition of Sarasota County is joining four other ELCs (Orange, Escambia, Pinellas, and Hernando) in adding LENA Grow coaching the CCR&R services that they offer to providers.
- In South Carolina, Richland County and Spartanburg First Steps will also be adding LENA Grow to their coaching services for providers in South Carolina. This builds on our existing partnership with Cherokee County First Steps, which is using LENA Home.
- In Iowa, Raising Readers in Story County will be using LENA Home as a tool for multiple home visiting providers in the county. This will expand upon the LENA Start programming at Ames Public Library.
Many of our partners across the country, including four of our launch fund recipients, work within the Head Start and Early Head Start system. With strong alignments to HSPPS, ELOF, and ECFE, LENA programs can help increase quality in HS and EHS programs.
- In Hawaii, PACT is an Early Head Start provider that will be implementing LENA Grow in several EHS classrooms, as well as with one family child care (FCC) provider through their EHS-CCP program.
- In Tennessee, Chattanooga Head Start/Early Head Start will also be implementing LENA Grow in classroom settings. LENA Grow will provide a unique way of tracking real time data of the interactions between children and staff as they work to improve their language development assessments.
- Also in Tennessee, Sequatchie Valley Head Start is adding LENA Home to their existing LENA Grow program in order to provide supports to families as they reopen their programs in a hybrid delivery manner. Children will be in the classroom four days a week and families will receive virtual “home visits” on the fifth day using LENA Home coaching.
- In California, El Nido Family Centers in Los Angeles will use LENA Home as part of their Early Head Start home-based programming. While COVID restrictions are in place, home visitors can’t conduct traditional in-person home visits with families, but will use LENA Home during their virtual home visits using Zoom, Google Meet, and other platforms.
We are also excited to be expanding our work in several communities through new partnerships that build upon existing programs.
- Team Up, a collective impact group led by United Way of Southwest Colorado, is launching LENA Start to support families in a three-county region. This builds on the work being done by Team Up member at San Juan BOCES in Cortez, who adopted LENA Home for one-on-one family coaching in the fall of 2018. In 2019, launch funds were also awarded to Team Up member Montelores Early Childhood Council to offer LENA Grow coaching to early childhood teachers in this same region.
- Best Memories Academy, an early learning center in Orlando, Florida, has utilized LENA Grow through supports provided by ELC of Orange County. Teachers who received LENA Grow coaching will now be trained to deliver LENA Start groups to the families of children in their classrooms.
- In Atlanta, Georgia State University’s Clarkston Communication Collaborative will be adding LENA Start parent groups to the services they provide to families. This continues to expand LENA’s work in the Atlanta Metro area with partners like Atlanta Speech School, Rollins Child Development Center, and Georgia DECAL.
- The Centers for Families and Children in Cleveland, Ohio, participated in a pilot of LENA Grow coaching for teachers through Cuyahoga County Invest in Kids and Starting Point. They found great benefits for the teachers their centers and are excited to now be launching LENA Start parent groups as they work to best serve families during a time of distance learning.
These partnerships demonstrate the breadth and depth of how LENA programs can integrate into existing infrastructures at all levels. To learn more about how you can bring LENA to your community, 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 Correll.