THE PODER FAMILY LITERACY PROGRAM by dustindiamond

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									                           THE PODER FAMILY LITERACY PROGRAM
                                            WASHINGTON COUNTY
                                        2002-031 Annual Evaluation Report
                                                   June 2003

Background: In our community we found frequently that many adults trying to learn English
could not access available programs due to lack of childcare, transportation and other economic
considerations. We established Gateway Family Literacy in late 1992 within the framework of the
Portland Community College’s Adult Literacy Volunteer Tutoring office (also known as PCC
Literacy Center) in Hillsboro to provide intergenerational educational tools for low-income
families. Last year we completed our tenth season with a decision of the participating families to
officially change the program name to PODER! In Spanish the noun “poder” means power and
strength; as a verb it translates as “to be able to”. All these meanings inform the group’s choice
and reflect their empowerment and commitment to this integenerational community of learners. In
January we moved our administration from Portland Community College to the Oregon Child
Development Coalition so as to better serve our needs for financial growth.

Goals: As outcomes for adults, parents will
    1. Recognize role as child’s first teacher and take an active part in child’s education.
    2. Engage in literacy activities in the home with children.
    3. Increase English literacy skills to communicate effectively in the community in order to
        access services and meet basic needs for self and family.
    4. Set and track individual and family goals.
    5. Solve problems and make informed decisions in order to realize goals and strengthen
        self-esteem.
    6. Use a positive approach to guidance to establish effective communication in the
        family.
    7. Demonstrate leadership and advocate for self and others.
Their younger children will enter Kindergarten with the cognitive and social skills necessary to
succeed in the public school. Older children will benefit from their parents’ models as lifelong
learners.

The program has been awarded the 1994 NAHRO National Award of Merit and the National
Association of Counties 1995 Award of Excellence. A video portrait of the program was produced
by the coordinator in 1995.

Current year improvements: In the fall of 2002 we began an exciting new collaboration under
the aegis of a four-year Even Start grant from the state with our partners, the Home Instruction
Program for Pre-School Youngsters and Mejorando el Futuro, both projects under the
administration of the Oregon Child Development Coalition, and Adelante Mujeres. Together we
have formed the Cornelius Family Literacy Collaborative, serving 70 –75 families annually. This
is allowing us to bring in more funds to better serve all the members of these families, with a
definite improvement in capabilities to offer quality parenting education and early childhood
education provided by trained and experienced teachers. On January 1, 2003, PODER moved the
administration of its program form Portland Community College to Oregon Child Development
Coalition (OCDC), a change which has resulted in stronger administrative support in accounting

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and human resources and greater latitude in going after sustainable funding. Another new source
of funding for the Collaborative is a two-year Community Development Block Grant beginning
July, 2003.

Current year operations: All the families met individually with the program coordinator and
parent educator/ children’s coordinator to discuss fulfilling their goals within the program. The
adults were assessed for English skills levels using CASAS listening tests or the BEST oral test.
When this results in a proficiency level of 4 or above, we administer a reading/writing test.
This year the total number of people who participated was as follows:
        23 families (12 returning, 11 new)
        36 adult ESL students
        54 children, pre-school through sixth grade
        14 volunteers, English tutors, school age children’s tutors and childcare
Paid staff:
Carol Mazer, Project Coordinator, 26-30 hours per week.
Lucila Beltran, Parent and Child Educator, 12-20 hours per week.
Ian Bubenik, Family and Community English Teacher, 4 hours per week.
Margarita Hernandez, Leonarda Benitez, Rocael de Leon, Early Child Education Teachers, 5-6
hours per week.
Stacey Martell, Jeff Kastner, Homework Tutors, 4-5 hours per week.

Program components
We try to provide excellence in instruction and reinforcement for positive change in the areas of
(1) Adult and (2) Parent Education, (3) Parent and Child Time Together and (4) Early Childhood
Education. In Adult and Parent Education classes students work toward their General Equivalency
Degree or learn English as a Second Language with a course content of child development,
parenting and community participation. Adult education is evaluated through state testing and
reporting systems. For Parent and Child Time Together, students practice parenting skills and
support their children’s development. Our high quality early childhood education program uses
Creative Curriculum for children 0 – 5 years of age to improve reading readiness, prepare children
for success in school and support their physical and cognitive development, social and emotional
growth. Assessment is an integral part of the Creative Curriculum, evaluating both the classroom
and each 3 – 5 year olds’ learning.

Developments in the 2002-03 program
Program coordinator and parent and child educator remain in close contact with the families
during the months of the program's operation to assure that expectations and needs are being met
and to help in whatever measure may be possible in removing barriers to their continuing
education. The results of these interviews show that the program is the main focal point for
education and community-building for these families, who also rely on us for further assistance
with other self-improvement goals (e.g. computer literacy, GED and citizenship studies,
specialized studies).

This year funding under the Even Start grant will allow the Parent and Child Educator to offer
summer classes for the first time in the program’s history: cooking and nutrition for parents and
children with materials provided by OSU Extension Services. Each family also received a


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handbook of summer educational opportunities in the community and materials for family
activities.

Summary of some of the changes and improvements within the group:
Currently the majority of families are completing their first or second year in the program. The
new families all come from the area of Cornelius statistically highest in level of poverty (those
served by Cornelius Elementary).

For the most part they share a high level of commitment to their English studies and parenting
education and a concomitant attention to further educational goals. Participation in discussions and
in making plans for future aspects of the program remains high. One adult received her GED,
while four others either began or continued work towards their GED. Three adults also learned
basic computer skills and two others continued advancing their computer skills, one of whom is
earning money typing Spanish translations. Eight families have computers at home. All parents
have become more interactive with teachers at their children’s schools.

Two families are in the beginning stages of preparing for home-buying. For many families this is
by necessity a long-range goal. We have been tracking this trend for several years, which shows
families’ commitment to ensuring a more secure environment for their children and to building
their futures in our community. Many new families have expressed interest in learning about
home-buying and have had instruction on the basics in their ESL groups A total of four families
who are currently in PODER Family Literacy are buying their own homes.

Family Coaching, a free service available for families with need, especially with issues of
communication and discipline, was made available to three families, two of whom are single
mothers.

Attendance has been excellent. When parents show this level of commitment to their own
education it also serves as an invaluable model for their children. As our families’ needs change, so
do our efforts to provide or refer them to the necessary level of training.

Usually we experience the loss of some families each year. Four families dropped out during the
year: one for new employment, one moved to Gresham, one returned to Mexico, one had to work a
later schedule. All the families who did complete the program plan to continue in the fall. Because
of our reputation in the community, the growing awareness of the effectiveness of comprehensive
family literacy, the ever-increasing need for ESL programs, and the loss of classes through
Portland Community College cutbacks among other factors, there are frequently many families
who want to be considered for admission. We will soon begin interviewing new families for the
4-5 openings for 2003-04.

Evaluation

A. Parents
The very approach of involving whole families (and extended families) continues to be the
program's greatest strength. Learning activities do not separate, but rather bring families together
two nights a week. Parent evaluations are solicited at the end of each year and parents are always

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encouraged to present their feedback and concerns at any time. We are guided by their useful
suggestions and concerns about how to best shape the program and to evaluate what might be
lacking.

B. Partnerships and resources
The credibility of the bilingual/bicultural staff, the long-term relationships the coordinator and
education specialist have established with families and the community, the positive interaction
fostered by caring staff and volunteers, the mentoring role of parents with some history in the
program with new families are all major assets.

We moved our location to the Cornelius United Methodist Church after losing All Saints’
Episcopal Church in Hillsboro due to their increased need for space as their congregation and its
activities grow. This has allowed us to share facilities, reducing costs for both, with our partner in
the Family Literacy Collaborative, Mejorando el Futuro.

Major sponsorship of the program still comes from Washington County Housing Services, which
has taken on the bottom line support since the very beginning, allowing the coordinator a financial
base upon which to build. We are particularly indebted to the administrative liaison from Housing
Services to the project, Michael O’Neill, who has made all go smoothly in contract oversight and
planning, and to Melanie Fletcher.

The Family Literacy Collaborative’s Even Start grant and a grant from Washington County
Commission on Children and Families funded parenting education and early childhood education.
This year Portland Community College Community Education funded the Family and Community
Education teacher’s salary.

The children’s program also benefited from grants held by the Saturday Academy to give
scholarships to families in our community. Twelve Poder children were introduced to new subjects
like computer programming, robotics, French, nursing, electronics, all free of charge, as part of our
partnership with the Saturday Academy.

C. Parenting education
Hispanic parents who are immigrants, struggling with new language and culture themselves, are
raising bilingual, bicultural children in Oregon. Many of these adults are from rural areas; many
left school early because of familial economic constraints, including lack of funds for schooling
and need for their labor alongside their parents in the fields. Because of such vast differences in
social and economic structure between their own childhood environments and the one in which
they are raising their families, they lack models of parenting appropriate to their current situation.
So, the fact that many participants have attained only two to six years of formal education in their
native countries is most frequently not due to lack of interest or intellectual capability. They are
eager for education and the information they lack. In our goal-setting activities, one of the most
frequent desires these parents articulate is to “help my children with their education.” To this end
we provide weekly Parent Education Support classes, facilitated by trained, experienced
instructors who are cultural peers of the participating families, addressing some 25 topic areas
including self-esteem (target: parents and children, using Maslow’s hierarchy of needs), stress
reduction, our role as parents, identification of developmental needs of children, parent

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communication styles, observation of children at play and scaffolding with children, journaling
our children’s growth, child abuse (physical, emotional, sexual, neglect), having fun with
children’s natural curiosity by playing educational and phonemic awareness games, dental health
and nutritional health for children and families (using foods native to the culture), emotional walls
and consequences, the problem with secrets, alcohol abuse, safety in the home. Most importantly,
cultural differences are noted and discussed so that parents recognize clearly the choices they have
between practices of their own and mainstream culture. Information, discussion and observation
empower them to make conscious, informed choices in parenting.

Another measure of adult literacy that is important in this program is the ability of our families to
access and use available resources, which in this community are considerable. We have always
tried to assist them in learning about resources to improve their lives or address a problem
situation. Sometimes this can be part of classroom materials or as a special session with a guest
speaker or field trip, in home visits or by appointment.

Other intergenerational activities included:
PACT time: This year we incorporated Parents and Children Together activities into our program.
Parents of young children spend a half hour weekly interacting with their children in the early
education classroom. The Early Childhood Component relies on child reading research based on
the May 1998 joint position of the International Reading Association (IRA) and the National
Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Among the many central themes
from a variety of research cited in this position paper are the concepts that second language
children are more likely to become readers and writers of English when they understand
vocabulary and concepts in their own language and that language, reading and writing are strongly
shaped by culture. “Children enter early childhood programs or schools having learned to
communicate and make sense of their experiences at home and in their communities. When the
ways of making and communicating meaning are similar at home and in school, children’s
transitions are eased.” Home visits help to extend parent/child activities into family life. Our goal
is to help immigrant parents and parents with low-literacy skills (1) understand U.S. school system
expectations for entering Kindergartners, (2) acquire the same language that professional
child-educators use in discussing child development, (3) gain knowledge of their own child’s
strengths and needs, (4) increase patience with their child, and (5) celebrate their role as the first
teacher of their child. We also support parent literacy in their native language.


We held our closing dinners in December and June. Families participate in planning and food
preparation. In December we presented 9 awards for testing scores that showed a higher
proficiency level over the previous year and in December and June recognized special
achievements such as passing GED tests, learning basic computer skills, achieving goals at work,
getting a driver’s license. At the end of the year we gave certificates of participation to 19 families
who completed the entire program and 30 individual adults, acknowledging hours of study and
paying tribute to their progress. Lucila Beltran prepared a certificate of recognition for each child.

D. Adult literacy
The link between learning, confidence and job stability continues to be evident, although factory
slowdowns and closures have affected our community. Currently all our students who want to be
employed are working. Getting GED’s have helped people find better employment, as in the case

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of one woman in our program, who has begun working as a teacher assistant in Migrant Head
Start. Two new women to the program this year, who came unable to read or write, have been
learning basic Spanish literacy through INEA (Instituto Nacional de Educación para Adultos)
classes and simple oral English. GED preparation, basic computer skills and citizenship
preparation are other goals we help our families achieve.

ESL and Staff Training: The adult ESL classes are a major attraction of the program. In addition
to our new paid Family and Community English instructor, Ian Bubenik, small groups are taught
by volunteer tutors trained through the TELT program (Training Effective Literacy Tutors), a
program of workshops sponsored by the State of Oregon. (PODER Coordinator Carol Mazer is a
certified regional trainer in this program.) We do an orientation with these volunteers, provide
ongoing training, materials, models for creating their own materials, and encouragement for
developing their innate skills. Tutors are invited to the annual Volunteer Literacy Tutor
Conference held in March at Reed College every year, where free workshops and materials are
provided. This year the coordinator, English instructor and a volunteer tutor attended the national
conference of the Commission on Adult Basic Education held here in Portland in April. The
coordinator also attended the National Even Start Association Conference in November in
Washington, D.C. The parenting education instructor attended the Oregon Association for the
Education of Young Children Conference and the Northwest Regional Parenting Conference. She
and one of our early education teachers attended a state-sponsored Even Start Family Literacy
Training.

Volunteers are a key connection for immigrant families into the larger community. The more
intimate and mutually instructive understanding that occurs in volunteer tutoring situations is in
itself a kind of neighborhood awareness and community-building tool. So any programs that
include volunteers promote our civic participation goals for our students.

The groups are small enough to meet individual needs and build students' confidence at their
growing ability to use English skills in daily life. As tutors gain experience in this program, they
have a better knowledge of their students and become more effective at assessing educational
needs. Students who feel that they are understood and accepted by their tutors generally show
more enthusiasm and capacity for learning. This year we recruited 2 new tutors and 3 returned.

E. School children
Parent and Child Education Coordinator Lucila Beltran oversees the school-aged children’s
program with assistance from paid homework tutor Stacey Martell, three adult volunteers and two
high school volunteers. The ability to have a reliable, talented paid homework tutor (Even Start
grant) has allowed for great improvement in age-appropriate activities for the older children.

Lucila Beltran’s tasks include assessing children’s individual needs in conjunction with parents,
overseeing report cards and other school communication, and acting as liaison between the
families and the school. She works with the coordinator to supply appropriate tutoring materials
and oversee their adequate use and to teach and encourage reading in both Spanish and English.
She assigns children to tutors for both homework help and activities, focussing especially on extra
help for the children who may not be getting it from their parents. At the same time she meets with
parents to suggest and help them discover ways in which they can help their children.

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Tutors: We recognized the very special contribution of Glencoe High School senior Lauren
Schmidt-Dipaola, Attached is a piece she wrote about her participation in PODER.

F. Pre-school children
We have finally put together a solid base for our early childhood education program with three
paid qualified ECE instructors who provide educational activities and nutritional snack
preparation for the children, as well as modeling and feedback to the parents. Our high quality
early childhood education program uses Creative Curriculum for children 0 – 5 years of age to
improve reading readiness, prepare children for success in school and support their physical and
cognitive development, social and emotional growth. Assessment is an integral part of the
Creative Curriculum, evaluating both the classroom and each 3 – 5 year olds’ learning.

Funding and future plans
In July 2003 we will enter our second year of the Family Literacy Collaborative’s 4-year Even
Start grant. A new 2-year Community Development Block Grant will further support coordination
and Early Childhood Education costs. The addition of a VISTA volunteer for 2003-04, who will
coordinate a public relations plan, a fundraising campaign and work with a newly formed advisory
committee to develop a blueprint for sustainability for PODER as a member of the Family Literacy
Collaborative. Other grant proposals are currently being considered.

Our twelve years of experience show that family literacy offers the kind of long term education
that helps families move ahead. The program is recognized by the Oregon Department of
Community Colleges and Workforce Development and the Department of Education

Sponsoring agencies
Critical to our continuation has been the financial support of the Washington County Department
of Housing Services, which has sponsored PODER from the very beginning. Oregon Child
Development Coalition assumed administration of the program as of January, 2003 and offers
complete financial, human resources, safety and other administrative services. The Cornelius
United Methodist Church provides facilities. We also maintain a partnership with the Saturday
Academy for enrichment classes for children in 4th grade and above. Portland Community College
Community Education contributes to ESL education.

Carol Mazer
Coordinator, PODER Family Literacy
PO Box 490
Cornelius, OR 97113

503 357-9493, 503 251 2083
fax 503 357 9231




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