smiling girl with a loren long book

Local Programs Lean on Technology to Provide Access for Families in Need

In Coatesville, Pennsylvania, First Book Member Tamara Acuna and her fellow colleagues at Chester County Intermediate Unit (CCIU) Head Start are looking to find creative ways to reach the kids 650 families they serve primarily in Chester County, which is mostly very wealthy.

At CCIU Head Start, their main role is educating people about the pockets of poverty in their own county, and the amount of families that do not have internet access or transportation.

“We’re bridging the gap between very wealthy families and families that don’t have that privilege,” Acuna notes.

The CCIU Head Start has family service workers who make food and book deliveries. They ring the doorbell, back away six feet and wait for the families to pick it up. They also provide an option to connect with them via Zoom, however, the food delivery has had the best impact with them.

“The kids are so happy to see each other. It’s the highlight of my day,” says Acuna.

Access to home literacy is very limited and they can see a change in the families’ approach to education when they are working with them. Acuna and her fellow teachers use a closed YouTube channel to record lessons that parents can use to facilitate with kids. It gives the parents the skills to read books with kids in a way that teaches and engages them. Many parents have been laid off so about 75-percent of the population is at home.

We’re all teachers first. We all love our kids; we just want to see our kids

Tamara Acuna

All of the teachers at CCIU Head Start has found different ways to reach their students. One teacher knew that one of their students loved art, so she dropped off art supplies and did a Zoom session with them.

“Teachers are being so thoughtful in how to connect,” Acuna adds.

Using the combination of determination and technology, CCIU Head Start teachers are searching relentlessly for ways to positively impact families in need.

If you are an educator serving students in need, learn how to become a member — for free!