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Groups Fine-tune Program for Latino Childcare Providers

PASCO, Wash. — More than 20 representatives of community-service agencies, foundations, and regulatory groups met with Washington State University and WSU Franklin County Extension personnel this past week to outline strategies for ensuring continuation of a successful two-year-old education program for Latino childcare providers.

The program, known as Pathways, advances Spanish and English literacy of some 50 Latino childcare providers in the Tri-Cities area who care for between 400 and 500 children in licensed home daycare facilities. Literacy instruction is coupled with education in child development, early learning, and best practices in childhood education and care.

Attendees unanimously agreed that both the need and the results warrant continued fundraising and partnership development to meet a 10-year goal of at least $2 million to support the program.

Organizations represented at the meeting were Women Helping Women, the foundation whose initial grants, along with one from the Bank of America, jumpstarted the pilot program; Benton Franklin County Headstart; Benton Franklin Health District; Catholic Family Services; the Franklin County Commissioners; Kennewick Department of Early Learning; Proveedoras Unidas; Washington Regional Afterschool Project; Washington State Migrant Council; and ESD 123.

The daycare providers participating in the program range from preliterate to those learning English as a second language. Their advancement in literacy not only ensures that they are able to comply with requirements for licensing and other business-related regulations, and also ensures that children in their care are safer and will become engaged early learners and be prepared to enter school.

WSU Franklin County Extension is managing the literacy education project.

The project received a huge financial boost a year ago with a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation of over $900,000. The grant is distributed over three years, with the stipulation that partnerships are put in place to support the program beyond the Gates Foundation support.