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The Seattle Times, 1/3/18   300 more Seattle-area families to join program that helps them teach their toddlers


The United Way of King County recently awarded $1.5 million to expand a program that helps low-income parents teach their toddlers using educational books and toys.

About 1,000 low-income families in Seattle and King County were enrolled last year in a home-visiting program that helps parents prepare their toddlers for kindergarten.

Now, with a boost in funding from the city and county, the United Way of King County estimates its latest round of grants for the Parent-Child Home Program will boost the number of families served to about 1,300 this year and 1,400 next year.

Thirteen community-based organizations will split $1.5 million to expand the Parent-Child program, which pairs families with home-visitors who teach parents how to get the most educational value out of playing with and reading to their 2- and 3-year-olds. Several will focus on helping families who no longer can afford to live in Seattle and who lack stable housing, said Karen Howell-Clark, United Way’s senior director of education strategies.

The YWCA, for example, will recruit homeless families, Howell-Clark said, while El Centro de la Raza, which works with a lot of Spanish-speaking residents, will expand its Parent-Child program to southern parts of the county where its families are moving. Other agencies, Howell-Clark added, may work with local housing authorities.

As part of the program, home visitors spend 30 minutes twice a week with families, showing parents how to use a book or toy to build their children’s language and literacy skills.

A recent study of Parent-Child’s impact in King County found that participating children were more likely to be ready for kindergarten and have stronger English skills than other students in Washington. They also continue performing at a higher level in reading and math by the third grade, according to the study.

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