The Gila County Supervisors put the spotlight on children this week by proclaiming April 14-20 the Week of the Young Child and approving two grants for the Gila County Library District.
Sponsored by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, the Week of the Young Child focuses public attention on programs and services that meet the needs of young children and their families.
The First Things First Gila and San Carlos Apache Regional Councils, Central Arizona Association for the Education of Young Children and other community organizations work to improve early learning opportunities, including early literacy programs, parent training and an effort to get books into the hands of youngsters from infancy to the age of 5.
Gila County Library District Director Jacque Griffin sought and received approval to renew a $65,000 grant to provide those services. The agreement continues the Early Literacy strategy begun by the previous First Things First Parent Education Community-Based Training Grant. Griffin told the supervisors the current Early Literacy Grant from “First Things First” has provided curriculum materials and educational training to the libraries in the service. The library district staff have heard only positive comments regarding the training for parents on literacy skills and reading to their children, Griffin said.
At this time, 1,706 children younger than 5 receive books each month to foster the early reading and the six pre-reading skills. The program encourages parents to read with their children.
According to research, the six pre-reading skills children need to read include:
• Tell stories
• Love books
• Learn words
• Hear sounds and play with the smaller sounds in
• Know letters, including their names and sounds
• Use books and follow the words on a page
The public libraries encourage families to expand reading skills by visiting the library and borrowing other books to read.
“Of all the programs that the Gila County Library District administers, fosters, or promotes, this grant gives staff the opportunity to reach the most residents, and creates a climate and culture to develop the pre-reading skills necessary for literacy in children. The grant renewal has a goal of enrolling 1,800 children in this program,” Griffin said.
The board also approved a request from Griffin to renew a grant agreement between San Carlos Apache Regional Partnership Council, Arizona Early Childhood Development and Health Board (First Things First) and Gila County Library District for San Carlos Region Early Literacy.
The grant will provide early literacy outreach through a “Parent Outreach and Awareness Strategy” for the families and children age birth to 5 living on the San Carlos Apache Reservation.
This $80,000 grant renewal will allow the library to continue offering the residents of Gila County in the area covered by the San Carlos Regional Council an early literacy program.
The district staff will continue to assist the San Carlos Library with programming for children younger than 5 and their families. Currently 400 children are registered with the Dolly Parton Imagination Library.
Organizers hope to double the number of children in the program on the San Carlos Apache Reservation.
The supervisors accepted and approved a recommendation by the Public Works Department to add Ewing Trail to the county’s inventory of roads to maintain as a public roadway.
Also approved was a grant request from the Gila County Sheriff’s Office to the Arizona Criminal Justice Commission for $392,727 for salaries and benefits for the members of the county’s Drug, Gang and Violent Crime Task Force.