Library receives grant for early childhood development

proud parents

The Garnet A. Wilson Public Library of Pike County, in conjunction with the Pike County Outreach Council and Community Action Committee of Pike County, has been awarded a $50,000 grant through the Family and Community Engagement Pilot program as a part of Ohio’s Early Learning Challenge Grant.

The goal of the pilot program is to engage families to ensure that children are born healthy and stay healthy, and children are ready for kindergarten. The target audience for the program includes families with children under age 6 who may not be already engaged with community support programs.  In Pike County, the target audience of the grant is families in the western portion of the county with young children up to age 5.

The grant funds will be used to launch the “Pike County Proud Parents” initiative, which will include four positive parenting workshops to be held at Western Elementary School in January, February, and March, 2017, and to distribute Early Childhood Development and Read-to-Me kits to partner agencies throughout the county.  The workshops will focus on early childhood development, early literacy, family nutrition, and the health and safety of young children.  The kits will include toys, games, books, and Early Childhood Development guides to help parents ensure that their children are healthy and developmentally prepared to enter kindergarten.

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to expand our reach to promote early childhood development and literacy in a community that so greatly needs additional resources,” said Jennifer Slone, Public Services Coordinator at the Garnet A. Wilson Public Library.  “These funds will allow us to provide essential learning and tools to parents of young children in our county, and to highlight social services that are already available in the area.”

“Participants in family focus groups made it clear that libraries strive to make families of all backgrounds and economic levels feel comfortable and they provide high quality resources to support parents in their role as their child’s first teacher,” said Angel Rhodes, PhD, Early Childhood Education and Development Officer with the Office of Ohio Governor John Kasich.  “We knew that libraries had to be a key component of this pilot in order for it to be successful.”

In addition to Garnet A. Wilson, nine other Ohio public libraries received the grant:  Columbus Metropolitan Library, Cleveland Public Library, Carnegie Public Library (East Liverpool), Lima Public Library, Toledo-Lucas County Public Library, Lane Public Library, Lorain Public Library, Perry County District Library, and Warren-Trumbull County Public Library.

In Ohio, the popularity of public libraries makes them an effective place to reach young families and improve community well-being. Ohio has the highest library use per capita in the nation with more than 8.7 million library customers. The selected libraries are ready to take action by working in partnership with other community organizations (food pantries, housing agencies, etc.) to provide families with the knowledge and resources they need to support young children and get them ready for school.

“Ohio’s libraries are welcoming and active community spaces that already have the infrastructure in place to reach many families,” said Tom Adkins, Director of the Garnet A. Wilson Public Library. “We are pleased that the Governor’s office recognizes that public libraries are in a unique position to interact with young families and help prepare children for school.”

Specific information about the workshops, which will each include a social service fair as well as a demonstration, is forthcoming.  Workshops will be held at Western Elementary School on Saturday, January 28, 2017 (Early Childhood Development Event); Saturday, February 18, 2017 (Early Childhood Literacy Event); Friday, February 24, 2017 (Food for Families Event); and Friday, March 10, 2017 (Health and Safety Event).  All workshops will include a chance to win gift cards for attendance as well as for signing up for social services provided by the organizations participating in the event.  Social service agencies who provide resources for young children should contact Jennifer Slone or Jennifer Wright at the library at (740) 947-4921 or by emailing or to inquire about participation.