By Rebecca Barnwell, National Center for Families Learning
Often taken for granted, the ability to read is a foundational and powerful skill that unlocks lifelong opportunity and learning. Basic literacy skills enable people to identify, interpret, and create information to better understand the world around them.
Unfortunately, illiteracy in Kentucky and across the United States persists, and both adults and children are impacted. More than 36 million U.S. adults cannot read or write above a third-grade level. Sixty-four percent of America’s fourth graders are not considered proficient in reading.
As we celebrate and acknowledge the importance of literacy during National Literacy Month, we are highlighting the work of the National Center for Families Learning (NCFL). Headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky, for 32 years NCFL has supported families in our home state and across the country to achieve their education goals together through NCFL’s signature, evidence-based Family Literacy model.
NCFL’s Family Literacy model is a multigenerational approach that centers families in the learning process. Written into federal legislation, the Family Literacy model recognizes that parents’ educational attainment and children’s educational outcomes are related. If the goal is to improve children’s outcomes, then parents also need equitable opportunities to build their skills. In communities large and small nationwide, parents and children are coming together in school buildings, libraries, and other community-based centers to work on achieving their academic goals together in supportive learning environments with other families.
The long-term effects of Family Literacy are multigenerational and multifaceted. They include increased school readiness in young children, employability skills and higher wages for adults, and healthy, positive parent-child relationships. Further, we see families form deeper connections and support networks through these programs—an important benefit, especially during the isolation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Family Literacy continues to provide parents and children with the opportunities to achieve their goals, as illustrated by former program participant and Kentucky resident, Chloe Goodman, in the video below.
Learn more about NCFL’s work and its impact by visiting https://www.familieslearning.org/what-we-do.