Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Bridging the Gap: Offering Mobile Libraries to In-home Child Care Providers

A Successful Model of Countywide Efficiency

Photo from unitedway-pdx.org
Early literacy education and public libraries go hand-in-hand with Pat-a-Cake, Pat-a-Cake and a child learning their ABC’s and 1, 2, 3’s. The Washington County Cooperative Library Services (WCCLS) is pleased to have been chosen as an anchor partner collaborating with the United Way and the Early Learning HUB of Washington County to deliver mobile library services to in-home child care providers. Leading educators and librarians in the community identified a need to reach young children where many spend their waking hours Monday through Friday. Realizing that transporting children off-site is difficult at best for this audience, the Early Learning HUB approached WCCLS to develop a countywide resource Books for Kids/Libros Para Niños. Through the partnership WCCLS delivers mobile library services (refreshed monthly) to approved child care providers in geographic hot spots across Washington County.

Time is of the essence when reaching out to our youngest county residents. According to Bryce Koyza, WCCLS Youth Services Librarian, “while brain development happens between the ages of 0 and 24, research indicates that 90% of all brain development happens before age 5-- before most children have ever stepped into a classroom.” This is one of the reasons why early literacy services and resources are so important, and why WCCLS has made it a core-component within Measure 34-235 – the replacement levy for countywide library services on the November 3 ballot (www.wccls.org/levy)

Early Literacy is what children know about reading and writing before they actually read independently or write letters. According to Eva Calcagno, WCCLS Director, “exposing young children (ages 0 to 6) to a language rich environment builds their capacity to learn. Reading, talking, singing, playing, and building the muscles a child uses to write are all considered early literacy practice.”  Helping children to develop these building blocks falls directly in to the public libraries wheel-house. Before a child is in school – public libraries provide parents and care-providers with the activities, tools and training to build a strong foundation for a child as they begin to read and write on their own.

Prior to the creation of the countywide Books for Kids services in June of this year, both the Beaverton City Library and the Cedar Mill Community Library had established a long and successful history of providing local book delivery services to child care providers within their respective communities on a request basis. In fact, in January 2016 the Cedar Mill Library, a WCCLS member library and one of the largest non-profit libraries in the United States, will celebrate the 20th anniversary of providing both in-home child care providers and Daycare Centers with their local Bookshare program. Bookshare is a free-service to Cedar Mill and Bethany area care providers supporting early literacy development of children in child care.

Getting ready to read is a tough job, and it’s one that children must take on at a very young age. Literacy is a vehicle for all learning and is the greatest gift we can give the children in our community. Services like Books for Kids exhibit WCCLS’s strong commitment to a literate and informed county.