Children’s Elementary School Outcomes After Participating in Family Literacy Programs

The First 5 LA Family Literacy Initiative is a comprehensive program to promote language and literacy development, parenting knowledge and skills, and economic self-sufficiency among low-income families in Los Angeles County. Each participating agency provides services through four interrelated Family Literacy program components: 1) early childhood education, 2) parent-child interactive literacy activities (PCILA), 3) parenting education, and 4) adult education. Family Literacy programs serve primarily low-income families with low parent education levels, whose home language is not English. Achievement gaps between students with high parent education levels and those with low parent education levels are well-documented,1 as are achievement gaps between native English speakers and English language learners.2 Family literacy programs aim to reduce these gaps through early education experiences and supporting parent involvement in early elementary school.

Findings from the eight-year evaluation of this Family Literacy Initiative have shown significant growth in language and literacy skills among children participating in these programs. Analyses of the evaluation’s survey of alumni parents found that parents also appeared to maintain, or even increase, their level of participation in their child’s school after leaving the Family Literacy program. As a next step, this elementary school follow-up study examined how children who participated in the Family Literacy Initiative performed when they went on to elementary school. Specifically, this brief addresses the question of how children who participated in Family Literacy Initiative program activities perform on measures of school participation and achievement relative to children who did not participate in Family Literacy program activities.