DENVER (Aug. 16, 2021) — The Colorado Department of Human Services Office of Early Childhood (OEC), along with the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) Office of Migrant Education and Colorado State Libraries, recently distributed 300 school readiness and family engagement backpacks to families and migrant communities across the state.
The backpacks contain materials to support families’ engagement with their children while building skills in in math and literacy, and were distributed at nine libraries across the state: Burlington Public Library, Delta County Public Library, Dolores County Public Library, Gunnison Public Library, Lamar Public Library, Mesa County Public Libraries, Ouray Public Library, Pines & Plains Library District (Elbert County), and the Yuma Public Library.
The backpacks contain information in both English and Spanish on safe sleep practices and how to apply for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. Copies of Colorado’s PLAYbook, also available in English and Spanish, a resource to help anyone caring for young children support growth and development, were also included.
“Getting these resources into the communities that need them is important,” said Mary Alice Cohen, Director of OEC. “So much of a child’s early learning and development happens at home, supported by family members. We are grateful for our partners at CDE and at libraries across Colorado for helping families access these materials, and for all of the great programming they do to support children and caregivers.”
Library systems were identified through the Growing Readers Together team at the Colorado State Library (CSL) in conjunction with Children and Youth Services at CSL. Libraries were selected based on a variety of factors including geography, child care needs in local communities, the community’s poverty rate, and the library’s early literacy program and services.
“Children learn first from those who are closest to them and care for them daily,” said Debbi MacLeod, Interim State Librarian and Director, Colorado Talking Book Library. “These materials help support families in being their child’s first and most important teacher. We are grateful for the opportunity to partner with OEC and distribute these valuable materials to families across Colorado.”
The backpacks were also distributed to the five migrant education regions of Colorado. All recipients qualify for the Migrant Education Program, a federal program administered out of CDE that provides supplemental support to migratory children overcoming educational disruption, cultural and language barriers, social isolation, various health-related problems, and other factors that inhibit the ability of migratory children to do well in school.
The backpacks were purchased through Colorado’s federal Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five (PDG B-5), a three-year $33.5 million initiative designed to implement activities identified in the Colorado Shines Brighter Birth through Five Strategic Plan to ensure all children are ready for school when entering kindergarten.
Jordan Johnson, Communications Manager