From the moment a mother is pregnant up until the baby’s first birthday, MOMS Orange County works closely with families and caregivers through in-home health coordination and group classes to help children become healthy, happy and ready to learn.
Since October 2008, MOMS Orange County has housed the administrative offices of community organization, Readiness on the Road, at its facility in Santa Ana. A program of Boys & Girls Clubs of Garden Grove, Readiness on the Road is a school readiness program funded by the Children and Families Commission of Orange County which provides free school readiness and parenting classes for families of children 2 1/2 -5 years of age at no cost.
Many babies and their parents, upon graduating from the MOMS Orange County Mommy & Me infant development classes at 24 months of age are referred to Readiness on the Road for continued early literacy development. The beauty of the “network effect” is the ability to link clients with partner agencies to serve and strengthen their families beyond their time with MOMS Orange County.
Readiness on the Road engages children through meaningful learning activities that build skills needed to successfully start school while educating their caretakers about how to create an on-going, at-home learning environment. Readiness on the Road also provides health interventions through initial check ups, health education and resource referrals to existing health service networks throughout Orange County.
Tabitha Jacobsz Rosier-Isom, former Americorp VISTA volunteer with Readiness on the Road, was initially a participant in the program at the La Habra Boys & Girls Club.
“At the time, I was a part-time, stay-at-home mom and came across the Readiness on the Road booth at the Annual Literacy Fair in La Habra,” Tabitha shared, “As a mother of a two-year old, I was always looking for something fun and interactive to do with my daughter.”
Readiness on the Road became such an important part of Tabitha’s life that she later became an AmeriCorps Member and continued on as an AmeriCorps VISTA and stayed on as a volunteer for three full terms. Americorp VISTA is a program of the Corporation of National and Community Service which places full-time members to community organizations and public agencies to create and expand programs that build capacity and ultimately bring low-income individuals and communities out of poverty.
“I wanted to be a part of Readiness on the Road as a volunteer, and specifically an Americorp VISTA because I enjoyed my experience as a participant and was passionate about being able to help in a different way. I felt closely tied to the program because I experienced it first-hand with my daughter and understood the value for families in our communities. Times are very tough for families and a lot of them may not have the resources to participate in other reading programs. Through my involvement, I grew a passion for the different facets of Readiness on the Road and how I could contribute through my experience as a parent,” Tabitha said.
As an instructor, Tabitha brought a unique perspective and depth to her work and recognized the value of literacy development training for parents and the shared desire of each parent to see their child grow and succeed.
“As parents, we all have common interests. There are developments in your two-year old regardless of whether you make $20,000 or $100,000 a year. During “We Learn Together” class, all our parents sat side by side and taught their children together. It’s a space in which the rich diversity and uniqueness of cultures shine through and builds community regardless of differing languages.”
At Readiness on the Road, there are invaluable opportunities for cross-cultural exchange between not only parents and caregivers, but also the young children. Tabitha recalls a heart-warming anecdote.
“I remember two little girls who began class at the same time. They were both about three years old but one child was Latina and the other Vietnamese. When they first sat down next to each other and began playing together, they would each speak in their native language to the other, Spanish and Vietnamese, respectively.”
“During our ‘socialization time’, in which parents would split up and have their parent education, these two little girls would continue playing and talking to one another—each one speaking their native tongue. They were the best of friends and understood each other perfectly. I could always find them holding hands, teaching one another and playing together. Beyond what we were teaching them in early literacy, this was a space for children from all backgrounds to come together and find common ground.”
During the parent’s class time, volunteers would coach parents on how to read to their child and teaching parents how to recognize literary opportunities in daily life.
Tabitha adds, “Parents had the ability to incorporate learning into everyday aspects such as pointing out signs and cues in the world around them.”
Parents are also given books to take home and read to their child in a fun and interactive way. Participants enjoyed and were able to benefit from the class regardless of the language they spoke or their literacy levels. At Readiness on the Road, parents and other caregivers are trained to teach their own child effectively at home and prepare them for success when they are ready to begin school.
Thanks to the work of partner agencies like Readiness on the Road, MOMS Orange County is confident that the rapidly growing and healthy “bundles of joy” born are in good hands beyond their time at MOMS.
For information about Readiness on the Road, please call 714.786.8896.
*all pictures courtesy of Readiness on the Road