Media Advisory - Family Literacy Centres could close: Parent group demands provincial funding to save 54 school-based centres



    TORONTO, March 7 /CNW/ - Parents, children, literacy advocates and other
community members will hold a press conference demanding that the provincial
government provide funding for the Parenting and Family Literacy Program.
    The Toronto District School Board has offered the Parenting and Family
Literacy Program in elementary schools since 1981. However, the program is now
in jeopardy since it does not receive any provincial funding. The Board will
discontinue funding for the program in June.
    "Premier Dalton McGuinty has made tackling child poverty one of his
government's key priorities. So it only makes sense that the province would
provide the funding needed to continue supporting this amazing program", says
Lesley Brown, Acting Director of the Ontario Literacy Coalition.
    Friends of Parenting and Family Literacy Centres is asking the provincial
government to provide stable funding for the Parenting and Family Literacy
Program.

    
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    Location:    Queen's Park: Media Studio

    Date:        Thursday, March 8th, 2007

    Time:        11:00 a.m.
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    Backgrounder: TDSB Parenting and Family Literacy Centres at Risk
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    Fifty-four (54) Parenting and Family Literacy Centres run by the Toronto
District School Board will soon close unless the provincial government agrees
to fund the program.
    In June 2006, the TDSB decided it would only continue funding the program
until the end of the 2006/7 school year. The Family Literacy Program has never
been funded by the Ontario government.
    The 54 Family Literacy Centres, located in elementary schools across
Toronto, provide free programs for parents, grandparents and caregivers of
children aged birth to 6 years old. The centres provide a fun, play-based
program, staffed by qualified early years teachers, promoting literacy and
numeracy learning and preparing children for school entry. The program costs
only $264 per child per year.
    One of the key goals of these centres is to help level the playing field
for all children, by preparing them for school entry and building strong
home/school connections.
    The family literacy program, established in Toronto public schools in
1981, has a strong track record.

    
    -   It is recognized internationally and has been visited by researchers
        from England, Australia, South Africa, Japan, India and the United
        States.

    -   The Early Years Report (1999) stated: "The Parenting and Family
        Literacy Centres offered by the TDSB exemplify a community-based
        initiative making use of schools to improve early child development
        sensitive to the linguistic and ethno-cultural background of
        families".

    -   A 1999-2000 study, funded by the Atkinson Foundation, showed that
        Toronto kindergarten students who attended PFLCs "were much better
        prepared for schooling than their peers in the same schools who had
        not attended the program."
    

    Parenting and Family Literacy Centres are staffed by TDSB employees, who
provide stability to the program and have a strong relationship with the
school and local community.
    PFLCs offer a safe and culturally-sensitive environment:
Parents/caregivers who are isolated and new to the community become more
confident and comfortable, interacting with parent workers, school staff,
teachers and principals, which helps to get them involved in the school.


    Who We Are...

    Friends of Parenting and Family Literacy Centres is a group of parents,
grandparents and caregivers who use the Centres and recognize what a unique
and valuable resource they are. We come from a variety of backgrounds; some of
our children have special needs, and some don't. They all benefit from this
wonderful program.

    What we want...

    We want the Ontario government to provide stable funding for Parenting
and Family Literacy Centres, operating in TDSB schools with TDSB staff.





For further information:

For further information: Kate Robson, Friends of Parenting and Family
Literacy Centres, Tel: (416) 536-4907

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FRIENDS OF PARENTING AND FAMILY LITERACY CENTRES

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