By Joanne Federman, executive director, Family Connections of Northeast Ohio
For 35 years, Family Connections has been building connections with families and their children from birth through six years old. At Family Connections, we invite every family into a nurturing community to find their own path that promotes effective parenting for children that are prepared for success in school.
Our five staffed playrooms – three of them located in public libraries – offer a total of 65 hours per week of instructional playtime in the City of Cleveland, as well as Cleveland Heights and Shaker Heights. Through our home visiting, school readiness program called SPARK (Supporting Partnerships to Assure Ready Kids), we are currently serving families in the City of Cleveland, East Cleveland, Maple Heights and Warrensville Heights.
United Way specifically funds our Family School Connection program, active in all seven elementary schools in the Cleveland Heights-University Heights School District, one in the Shaker Heights City School District and another in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District. Our family liaisons partner with parents to help young students master pre-reading skills.
Research, along with our experiences, shows that the same family support principles that worked 35 years ago are still as impactful and relevant as ever. That is why the valued support of United Way is critical in helping us strengthen families and improve early literacy.