Thursday, November 5, 2009

Help Families Get an Even Start

In many cases, adult and child literacy problems go hand in hand - when adults suffer from low literacy skills, children are less likely to be read to, to have books, or to be encouraged to read.

The Even Start program, whose funding is being threatened at the federal level, creates a learning environment for whole families to address literacy problems together so that parents can learn while supporting their children's literacy needs.

Funding for Even Start has been cut 75 percent in recent years. The President's budget and the current Senate Appropriations Committee bill eliminate funding for the program entirely, in part because outcomes have varied nationwide. In Pennsylvania's Even Start programs, however, 79 percent of all students who were not English language learners made gains in their TABE tests, while English language learners improved by 85 percent on the Comprehensive Adult Student Assessment System.

According to ProLiteracy, an estimated 30 million adults over age 16 living in the US cannot read well enough to fill out a job application. In Pennsylvania, nearly 50 percent of all adults need literacy education, while in Philadelphia, there are an estimated 400,000 adults with less than a fifth grade education. Low literacy skills in adults also affects the health of both adults and their children - low health literacy costs at least $106 billion in personal health care spending each year.

Please write to your Senators today to ask them to support Even Start funding so that families can continue learning together.

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