We know that one of the best ways to support children ages birth through five is to support their families. Well-supported families are connected to the people, resources, and tools they need to raise healthy, happy children. Many of our Family Support programs were able to quickly pivot to a virtual format when COVID-19 hit, resulting in increased levels of parent/caregiver engagement and participation.

Literacy supports remained an anchoring priority even as our programs adapted to serve families’ new needs related to COVID-19. To support early literacy and increase families’ access to books, OCPYC participates in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. The program’s mission is to foster a love of reading in children ages birth to five through the gift of a free, age-appropriate book sent to a child’s home every month. In FY 2019-2020 23,077 books were delivered to 2,562 children in Orange County. Many parents expressed how much this program meant to them at a time when public schools and libraries were closed due to COVID-19.

With our support, Orange County Literacy Council’s Family Literacy Program served 43 parents/caregivers, with 88% reporting that their child improved in at least one area of reading or that they felt more prepared for their child to start kindergarten as a result of their participation in the program, and 96% reporting an increase in the frequency with which they read to their children.

“I wanted to say thank you for making Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library available in our area. It has made a huge difference in my four-year-old’s interest in reading. We struggled to get him to read with us, but now he checks the mail daily to see if he has a new ‘Dolly book’, and our whole household is excited when one arrives. The books he’s received are his favorite and most-cherished books because they’re so well curated for his age and interests. We also appreciate that deliveries have continued during the pandemic since we’re not able to go to the library to browse books to see what catches his attention and because he no longer gets exposure to more books at preschool. A huge thank you to everyone involved!”

-Ellen Cabaguncan, parent

With OCPYC support, the Orange County Rape Crisis Center held nine Stewards of Children Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Trainings, including three trainings in Spanish. All participating caregivers reported that they learned how to talk to children about child sexual abuse and how to minimize the chances of child sexual abuse occurring.

With OCPYC’s support in FY 2019-2020, 15 parents/caregivers completed the Chapel Hill Training Outreach Project’s KidSCope Incredible Years Toddler Parenting Education Program in English, and 8 completed the program in Spanish. Ninety-two percent of parents reported an increased sense of parenting competence as a result of participating in the program.

OCPYC’s Reach Out and Read program trains pediatric providers to coach parents at well visits about the critical role that reading and language-rich interactions play in their daily routine. During each well visit children receive a new, culturally- and developmentally appropriate book to take home and read with their parents. In FY 2019-2020 OCPYC worked with two medical practices, UNC Children’s Primary Care Clinic and the Orange County Health Department, and provided 1,389 age-appropriate books to support the practices.

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