Blogger Early Childhood Programs and Services committee

Early Literacy Outreach with Local Head Start Centers

Early literacy workshops in our libraries are a great way to inform parents about the five early literacy practices and how to use them with children as they become ready readers, but what do we do about families with young children who do not typically come to the library?  How can we reach them? We go to where they are!

Display of Head Start Resources
St. Vincent De Paul Pimlico Early Head Start resource table at the book distribution and early literacy workshop in Baltimore, MD. (Photo Credit: Eiyana Favers, 2018)

One place you will always find families and children are local Head Start centers.  Outreach at Head Start locations can range from storytime to a librarian presence at a community partner/provider event.  Below, I will outline three reasons to partner with your local Head Start site.

Parent Engagement

In my city, Head Start parents attend classes and programs at the centers that strengthen their roles as their child’s first and best teacher.  Parent classes at Head Start are perfect opportunities to provide early literacy workshops to families who may not regularly visit the library. If you reach out to your local center and explain what you have to offer, you will likely be welcomed by center staff to provide this invaluable resource to their families.  This is also a wonderful opportunity to introduce families to other library resources and services.

Library Card Distribution

When you visit a Head Start site you are bound to meet families who know and love the library.  Many will know the days and times for storytime and the names of the children’s librarians in the local branch, but you will also meet families who do not visit the library or use our resources.  One way to introduce families to the library is to invite your local Head Start center for a library visit. Many Head Start centers have field trips, much like elementary schools, and could make a trip to the library, parents in tow!  If a field trip is not an option, you could arrange a visit to a Head Start center, much like a school visit, and distribute library cards or applications at that time. Don’t be surprised if you’re asked to share a story or two with the children!

Head Start Centers are in all Fifty States

According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services (USDHHS) website, over 1 million children are served by Head Start programs throughout the United States.  There are Head Start centers in nearly all major metropolitan areas and most smaller cities. If you would like to find the Head Start program nearest you, here is a link to the Head Start locator from the USDHHS website.  

Do you partner with Head Start?  Are there other ways that you see your system supporting your local Head Start center?

This post addresses the following ALSC Core Competencies: I. Commitment to Client Group, III. Programming Skills, and V. Outreach and Advocacy

Eiyana FaversOur guest blogger today is Eiyana Favers.  Eiyana is the Early Literacy Outreach Specialist at Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, Maryland and wrote this piece as a member of the Early Childhood Programs and Services committee.


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