Family Literacy Programs: Getting the Word Out

Tanis Harms, Community Learning Network

1 2 25 November 2015

Whether you are starting up a new Family Literacy program in your area, wanting to recruit new families to participate in long-standing programs, looking for facilitators, or trying to get funding, it’s sometimes hard to know how to let your community know about your programs!

Here are 5 ideas to help you get the word out about the fabulous family literacy program(s) you are offering:

1. Plaster your logo on everything!

  • Get cheap t-shirts made with your logo on it for staff/facilitators to wear.
  • Print your CALP logo, contact information (phone, address, facebook page, website address) on standard labels and stick on the back of the books or rhymes that you hand out to families.
  • Make sure your CALP logo & contact information is on every poster you hand out or display.

2. Go where the families are!

  • Contact groups that are already meeting with families (parent & tot groups, church groups, playgrounds, etc.) and let them know what your CALP is offering.
  • Or better yet, see if you could do a “sample” program within their program! (Lead a 20 minute circle time with them to give them a taste of what to expect).

3. Talk, talk, talk!

  • Talk with key people in the organizations in your community that work with barriered learners and let them know about your family literacy programs and the benefits to those that participate. Some of these key people may work with:
    • Family and Community Support Services (FCSS)
    • The Food Bank
    • Churches
    • Elementary School Principals
    • Playschool Teachers
    • Libraries
    • Alberta Health Services
    • Seniors groups
  • Word of mouth is key in family literacy programs….encourage participants within programs to invite friends and tell others about upcoming programs. Perhaps even provide incentives for bringing friends (like a free book for them and the family they bring that’s new).
  • Make sure that all the staff and board members in your organization know the purpose of family literacy programs and how they benefit families, along with “what to expect” at a program. These are some of your greatest referrals and advocates! Better yet, have these co-workers and board members attend a program to see for themselves how great they are!
  • Make sure to always attend community nights where you are able to give out information about your programs, talk with families, and get to know other community organizations who could advocate for you! (Hint: having some kids books and a stuffy or two on your table seems to get kids over to your table…and the parents generally follow!).

4. Provide Quality Programs!

  • Focus on providing quality programs in a welcoming atmosphere and the families that participate will want to come back and let others know about what they’ve found.
  • Listen to those who are coming or those who are not, to find out what barriers exist for participants. Do what you are able to reduce these barriers!

5. Sample Sessions!

  • Would you want to “sign up” for something that was completely unknown to you? It takes a lot of courage. By providing a few “sample sessions” within other programs or independently in libraries, schools (at a PTA meeting for example or to the parents with their kids in a kindergarten class), playschools (a parent and me day), etc. parents have a better idea what they are signing up for and what to expect at a family literacy program. It may be well worth your time and energy to do “one” session in order to hook the interest of future participants.

These are some of the strategies that I have found worked well to promote Family Literacy in my community. We'd love to hear what's working for you too - please leave a comment if you've got a great idea to share!

Tanis Harms
Regional Support Staff
Northern Alberta


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