The Literacy Coalition of Oswego County, through a grant from the Richard S. Shineman Foundation, recently partnered with a research firm to analyze the gaps in our county’s current literacy services, said Jon Spaulding, LCOC president.
“They were also charged with helping determine best practices for literacy interventions and identifying the barriers preventing people from accessing literacy services,” Spaulding said. “The results of the research study are quite telling and are important in developing new strategies to improve overall literacy within Oswego County.
“At a recent meeting of the LCOC leadership council, the group addressed a couple of the more significant findings in the research study. First, while literacy service providers are doing an exceptional job incorporating quality practices at their agencies, there is a gap in coordinating literacy services with other public services. In short, we need to do a better job in identifying literacy needs at the time people are seeking out other types of assistance in our county.
“Having a common database that is accessible across all providers is an important step in this process. In doing this, cases can be logged in at a single entry point detailing services needed and service rendered, and from there, all agencies can access the details at any time in order to better serve literacy needs. Certainly, the technology to do this is out there, but it’s easier said than done as far as implementation goes. Still, the LCOC recognizes this as an important goal to work toward this year and beyond.
“The second important finding of the research study revealed that while Oswego County offers many programs for workforce development and for children, there are no programs specifically designed for both parents and children. Family literacy is an important area to target because the intergenerational cycle of low-literacy can be broken if services are effectively administered for both parents and children within a family unit. Improved family literacy can translate to improved workforce literacy and the numeracy skills necessary for many employments opportunities. These are strong literacy skills that the LCOC believes are the foundation of strong communities.
By focusing in on these areas of the research study this year, the LCOC vision becomes even more focused. That vision:
Strong literacy skills empower individuals as citizens participating in our democracy, as workers seeking employment opportunities, as parents supporting their children in school, and as community members engaging in the life of the community. Literacy is essential for most employment, for understanding and using the healthcare system, for interacting successfully with businesses and services, and for learning more about the world. Individuals and communities with higher levels of literacy will attract new businesses and industries and will help build a higher quality of life in Oswego County.
“Literacy is about so much more that just reading books. Literacy is a lifelong process of being able to comprehend our role and participate in a civilized society. The goal of the LCOC, 100% literacy through 100% community engagement, recognizes that effective changes require participation from all members of the community to not just make literacy available, but to make it realized by everyone.
“We are grateful to the Shineman Foundation for the grant that enabled this research study to become a reality. The information and direction the study has given us will help lead our initiatives for years to come. We are also grateful to the individuals, businesses, and organizations involved in the LCOC and the important mission of improving literacy in our county. If you would like to get involved, we welcome your participation, as well. Engage in literacy and you’ve engaged in your community’s future.”
For more details about the LCOC, visit oswegocounty.com, find them on Facebook under Literacy Coalition of Oswego County or call the Literacy Coalition office at 342-8839.