ELF was designed to enhance library services for families with infants, toddlers and preschoolers. It reflects current research, and addresses social trends, academic performance and community needs. Its intent is to increase the value and expand the role of libraries in California communities.
Why bother to invest in the implementation of ELF at your library? There are a number of very beneficial reasons.
California's Children Need Early Learning Opportunities
- As the brain research confirms, the first five years are a particularly important period in which to provide rich stimulating experiences so children can develop the neural connections for learning throughout their lives. (From Neurons to Neighborhoods)
- Reading aloud to infants and toddlers is one of the most important ways to lay the foundation for future success in reading. A 2007 UCLA study Reading Across The Nation: A Chartbook ranked California 42nd in the nation, with only 44.6% of children from birth to five read to daily.
- According to the 2007 Rand study Who Is Ahead and Who Is Behind, 33% - 57% of kindergarteners and 45% - 49% of first graders in California did NOT meet reading proficiencies for their grade level. 240,000 (52%) second graders and 290,000 (63%) third graders are performing below grade level in language arts according to CST data.
- Only 37% of 2,679,311 children between 1-4 years of age can be served through the existing childcare and family care settings. (2007 Child Care in the State of California. NACCRRA)
Families Need Support
- Today's parents and childcare providers experience greater isolation (Isolation In America, 2006. Duke & Univ. of Arizona) and therefore need a place where they can receive support, exchange ideas, access resources and obtain guidance in their parental role.
- Parents are their child's primary teacher and can benefit from the library's ability to facilitate further understanding of ways to promote their child's growth and development.
- The public expects libraries to provide services for children (Long Overdue, 2006. ALC) and to that end, ELF provides a variety of programs and enhances the value of the library to the community and its agencies.
- Library usage is increased as more families and young children are introduced to collections, services and events. Multiple generations become captivated and engaged by library resources and programs for the long term.
- Early learning programs for families provide increased visibility among community decision makers with the potential for increased resources, as libraries partner with community agencies and advocate for early childhood initiatives.
LongTerm Economic Benefits
Early childhood programs are economic development initiatives that breed economic success according to James Heckman, Noble Laureate in Economics, Univ. of Chicago. For every $1 invested in the Perry Preschool for example, the ROI was $17 saved through the achievement of higher education levels, fewer special education programs, higher employment and salaries, more taxes paid, lower crime, fewer single parents, greater community involvement and a better quality of life for the individuals involved. (Early Childhood Interventions, 2005 RAND)