The early childhood education component of Polk Countys Family Literacy Project is in dire financial need. Funding will run out in three months.
The birth to preschool education component, coupled with the adult literacy program, makes up the Family Literacy Program, according to Susan Hackney, Director of Coosa Valley Tech Adult Education Department. Its the machine working to rid the county of low literacy, high school drop out rates and other social problems.
Adults attending classes to get their GED bring their children to school with them to receive instruction at the same time. The parent also receives instruction in parenting.
According to officials from Coosa Valley Technical College, Polk has been involved with this project because of the countys high rates of poverty, teenage pregnancy, unwed mothers and low birth rate babies.
The county was also involved in the program because of high incidences of child abuse and neglect and extremely large numbers of high school drop outs.
Money to keep the program running is at a critical level according to Hackney. Grant funding is not enough to get us through the year, she explained. She said that they need to raise $25,000 a year to keep the program going.
We need to find a stable source of funding to support family literacy. The program needs money it can depend on each year because of the positive change its bringing about and the potential it has, Hackney said.
She explained that the administrators will find a way to make it because they are very frugal. But, she said, We have nickeled and dimed the program to death.
A steering committee of 15 community members has been put in place to help support and raise money for the program.
Linda Liles, committee chairperson, said they raise between $7,000 and $10,000 a year with a special dinner and auction.
The shortfall in funds still worries administrators who see the difference the program is making in the community.
This program is not only helping children it is going to help the community. Im sold on it, Liles said. She believes it is the one program in the area that is breaking the chain of illiteracy and poverty in our community.
Children who normally wouldnt be ready for school because their parents couldnt read to them or teach them properly, are prepared through the program, Liles continued.
The burden of fundraising takes its toll and eats up your focus and time explained Hackney. She said that sometimes, It eats away at the thinking process and you wonder, weve done all this work and we may not be able to sustain it [the program].
The Polk County Family Learning Center Project is designed to raise the educational level of low literate or limited English proficient parents, enable them to create an economically viable family, and give them strategies to raise children who will be successful in school.
We are making fundamental changes within families. Thats the most important decision-making component in society, Hackney said.
Parents are engaged in adult basic education and parent education classes while their children receive developmentally appropriate instruction in the early childhood area.
Statistics show that as of June 2005, 29 fathers, 191 mothers, and 228 children have participated in the program. All parents demonstrated gains in literacy levels as measured by the National Reporting System, and 50 graduated with a GED.
Through partnership with Coosa Valley Technical College, over 50 percent of the graduates have gone on to post-secondary education.
Information on childrens performance levels in school is just beginning to be available as they start to enter school. Hackney anticipates great results from these children and more success for them in their grade because they are better prepared.
Hackney reiterated the need for funding that the people working in the program could count on every year.
Liles said that the committee is shaking the bushes to find funding for the program. She hopes more individuals and businesses locally will get on board, she said.
Liles can be reached at 706-290-1776 for more information about making a donation or getting involved.