ParentChild+ Addresses Crucial Learning Gap

Proper school preparation is vital for a child’s success later in life. Entering kindergarten with an understanding of the basics, like how to interact with a picture book, helps kids get the most out of their education. A sad reality of poverty is that many children born into low income families do not acquire these skills in early childhood.

An Early Childhood study in Onondaga County showed that about 50% of children entering school are unprepared or underprepared. There are many reasons that children born into poverty underperform compared to middle and high income peers. Parents may be working multiple jobs. Families may be without a history of higher education. The disparity, as seen in the chart to the right, is significant. By the age of 36 months, a child in a low income family has learned less than 20% of the words learned by her high income peer.

ParentChild+ (formerly Parent-Child Home Program) was brought into the community to help address school readiness. The program serves children between the ages of 18 months and 4 years. Previously, there was a lack of programs available for this vitally important age group. ParentChild+ is a voluntary program that parents opt into, and features twice weekly visits from Early Learning Specialists. The Specialists bring books and toys which are gifts to the family and model methods of communication to foster parent child interaction.  This interaction is key to increased verbal development and early literacy skills. 

Catholic Charities staff are excited to bring this program to the community. Program Coordinator Sue O’ Bryan has been working hard to spread the word about the program and share the benefits with families. Sue is one of two ParentChild+ coordinators working with Early Learning Specialists to reach families throughout the county.

“Our Early Learning Specialists will tell you this is the best job they have ever had,” said Sue. “To be able to ignite a passion for learning in a child and support a parent as their most important teacher is invaluable. What could be better?”

To learn more about this program, please contact either of the below program coordinators.

Ondalee Kelley

Sue O’Bryan


Posted by Bridget Dunn, Communications Manager

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