ACS Child Care and Head Start Supports Dual Language Learners
Hundreds of parents attended the Administration for Children's Services' (ACS) Child Care and Head Start Parent Leadership conference last Friday, June 11 at the ACS Children's Center to learn new ways to help support their bilingual language children in child care and Head Start settings.
Some of the hundreds of parents who attended the forum.
The conference was attended by senior ACS Child Care and Head Start (CCHS) staff including Maria Benejan, Associate Commissioner; Ayleen Guzman, Acting Assistant Commissioner and Sherone Sanchez, Director of Quality Enhancement and Training. Sanchez noted that "the early years are learning years and very critical for optimal development as success in life. Classroom learning is enhanced when teachers support children's home languages." She said that this approach is supported by research which shows that culture and language provide children with a sense of identity and are inextricably intertwined with learning.
Speaking on behalf of parents, Diane Ferguson, Head Start Policy Council Chairperson said "encouraging children to speak their home language helps them learn English, feel better about themselves and helps them to get better grades in school and better jobs." The Policy Council operates in conjunction with ACS Head Start Board of Governance to jointly make policy decisions regarding the operation of the Head Start Federal grant. Parents attending the conference also heard from Aurelia Tantao-Thompson, Head Start federal representative and Pauline Toole, Program Director of We Are New York, Mayor's Office of Adult Education.
Sherone Sanchez addressing welcoming parents. Partly hidden is Miranda Harrison, CCHS Assistant Director of Program Development & Support Services.
The conference, organized by CCHS, was the first of its kind and was prompted by research conducted on a national level by Head Start to investigate the needs of dual language learners in Head Start. ACS established an English Language Learners (ELL) workgroup to review the research and develop recommendations to better support English language learners. The goal of the conference was to show parents the importance of maintaining their home language, give them strategies on how to use their home language while interacting in everyday situations, and help them participate more fully in their children's education.
Workshops based on a curriculum developed by Dr. Victoria Rodriguez, Associate Professor in the Departments of Early Childhood & Childhood Education at Lehman College, City University of New York (CUNY) were offered in several languages including French Creole, Chinese and Spanish. Along with Dr. Rodriguez, conducting the discussions were experts in the field such as Aurelia Tantao-Thompson; Dr. Luisa Liliana Costa Garro, Professor of Education, Bank Street College; Rosalyn Brown, Early Childhood Program Specialist, ACS/CCHS; Marie Mason, Education/Site Director, Child Center of NY Head Start; Dr. Jean Yves Plaisir, Professor of Education, Borough of Manhattan Community College and Stacey Li, Director of Social Sciences, Educational Alliance.
A similar conference for Directors of Head Start facilities was held late last year.