Norwalk's youngest children -- all of them -- are in line for early intervention reading and literacy assistance thanks to a grant unveiled at Tuesday night's Board of Education meeting.
"I'd like to thank the Grossman Family Foundation for putting Norwalk on the track that really puts us above what a lot of other urban districts are doing in terms of addressing the really deep needs of literacy and reading at our pre-K and 3 levels, doing it from the ground up," said board member Sue Haynie. The programs will be done "in a way that's considered the gold standard."
Officials did not release the amount of the grant, which is being distributed to the ChildFIRST program, Parents as Teachers program and community literacy programs.
"We were approved for one year of funding for this proposal, with four years of future proposals in the works, assuming we accomplish all the results we set out to perform," said schools Grants Administrator Italia Negroni. The goal is for collaboration that will form "all early care and education into a consolidated system of services and data management for all children through 8 years old throughout the entire city."
"This grant has provided us the opportunity to serve more families and get more of the families that are waiting for services get the services," she said. "This grant will allow us to hire another clinician and another care coordinator. So we'll have six members as well as myself on the team."
The work will help close the achievement gap, said Victoria Shilling of the Norwalk Healthy Families Collaborative.
Norwalk Early Childhood Council is hiring a coach that will help in its community programs for the underserved pre-K to Grade 3 population, Schools Early Childhood Instructional Specialist Pam Augustine-Jefferson said.
Parents as Teachers goes into homes and aides families with literacy and language development, Mary Oster said, explaining that "A lot of parents have not had a role model to know what they can do and how they can best help their kids."
The grant is funding five parent educators, she said. Three have already been hired and trained. It will also fund group activities for parents.
The grant also is funding Wireless Generation online assessments for children at three schools. (A fourth is paid for through a state department grant, officials said.) There is hope of creating literacy sites at the schools, allowing teachers to observe the methods being used.