Sunday, August 15, 1999

Norwood gets Even Start grant

Goal is to involve more parents

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        NORWOOD — A federal grant received by Norwood City Schools will help parents better prepare young children to learn.

        The $197,600 grant — Norwood's first Even Start money — will be aimed at parents who do not have high school diplomas, people who might be hesitant to get involved with their children's education.

        “That is crucial,” said Barbara Rider, Norwood's assistant superintendent for instruction. “Probably the most important factor in a child's success in school is parents' involvement and commitment to education. We're really thrilled.”

        The Even Start Family Literacy program, which started in 1988, picked Norwood for one of 30 grants awarded in Ohio for this school year. The program's goal is to help break the cycle of poverty and illiteracy by improving the educational level of low-income families.

        Other area school districts and agencies receiving Even Start grants: Cincinnati Public, Mounty Healthy, the Clermont County Head Start program, and Adams-Brown Counties Economic Opportunities Inc.

        Norwood school officials have used the grant — renewable for four years — to hire five people to work part time as family advocates, Ms. Rider said. They will visit with 100 low-education families with children under age 8, helping the parents make the first step toward getting involved at their child's school.

        “We wanted to do a better orientation for the parents, telling them things like who you talk to about certain issues at the school,” Ms. Rider said.

        Each of Norwood's elementary schools will create a “welcoming space” at the school to make the parents more comfortable.

        Grant money also will be used to offer more child care for parents attending General Educational Development (GED) classes to study for an Ohio high school equivalence diploma. Child care will be expanded to handle about 10 children — up from two to three — four days a week, an increase from two days a week.

        The Even Start money also will be used to acquaint the families with other social services and employment opportunities available to them, and to provide materials for parents to help prepare children for kindergarten.

        “This will really help with their involvement with school and help the whole family with education,” Ms. Rider said.


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