This year ushered in the 12th annual Even Start program. This program saw an increase not only in the number of families served but also the addition of an afternoon class. We not only served the usual 20 families in a daily AM class, but added an additional 16 families in its afternoon class. The added class was made possible thanks to a special grant.
The program team was strengthened with the addition of its new bilingual case manager, Kelly Rominiecki. Kelly's work load included helping families with a myriad of barriers they face including but not limited to health and domestic abuse issues. As in past years, families wishing to enroll were required to complete health screenings. Kelly helped families access the health services necessary to complete the required screenings by connecting them with ACLAMO's health clinic partners: Mercy Suburban Family Practice Center and Norristown Regional Health Center.
The overarching goal of the Even Start Program is to give all the members of the family the tools to succeed. For the preschooler in the family, this means providing them with an enriching early childhood education experience that includes measurable gains in academic, intellectual, social and self-help skills. For the parent, it means giving them the tools they need to support their children in meeting academic success. For this reason, English proficiency is targeted but parenting skills are also addressed. In addition to the parent as teacher, the adults are expected to make demonstrable gains in their English proficiency, work-related skills and computer skills. The combination of all these components in the Even Start program result in the participants being in a much improved position to help themselves, their children and their families after participating in the Even Start Program.
During the school year from September to June, our educational team provided classes 4 mornings and afternoons a week for a total of 6 hours each day. Additionally, each family received a monthly, hour-long home visit individualized lesson plans created by the team. By spring, all families with children entering kindergarten had completed registration, and visited their prospective new schools to see the class and meet the teacher.
We are grateful for the assistance of student volunteers from Bryn Mawr, Haverford and Ursinus College, West Chester and Eastern University. Additionally we want to thank all our professional volunteers, in particular, we want to offer a special recognition of the contributions of Dr. Jorge Carballo, who has assisted in our health education program for over ten years.
We are pleased to report that all participating mothers moved up at least one level in English language proficiency based on the National Reporting Standards. Also the program team was surprised and delighted that each of their students also advanced at least one level in ESL. We are proud to share that this marks our 5th year in a row where our outcomes placed our Even Start program overall 2nd in the state of Pennsylvania!