New Early Childhood Enhancement Program Found to Significantly Improve Early Literacy and Social-Emotional Skills

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Evaluation shows Children’s Aid Society “Go! Books” program increases performance of low-income children

NEW YORK, December 9, 2011 – The Children’s Aid Society’s “Go! Books” early childhood program increased early literacy and social-emotional skills, according to a report evaluating the program’s effectiveness.  “Go! Books” is an individualized enhancement program in which children meet in pairs with a Go! Books teacher twice a week for 30 minutes and engage in individualized activities based upon a series of books. 

The findings show that children participating in “Go! Books” exhibited significant gains in print concept and alphabet knowledge, self-regulation skills and interest in reading.

“Early childhood lays the foundation for future educational success and can play a crucial role in improving performance throughout a child’s academic career,” said The Children’s Aid Society (CAS) President and CEO Richard Buery. “Focused programs like ‘Go! Books’ can make a big difference in expanding pre-literacy skills, which is particularly valuable for low-income, dual language learning children. This study proves what we’ve all known for years, to effect positive change in the lives of poor children, support must be focused and ongoing.”

The program was evaluated using a randomized control trial design with 160 children participating. Completed one and two years after enrollment in the program, the report focused on multiple domains of children’s development including emergent literacy skills and self-regulation. 

At the end of the program, children who participated in “Go! Books,” the majority of whom speak English as a second language, had significantly greater print concept knowledge and knew significantly more letters, letter sounds and sight words than the control group. The treatment and control group children were all enrolled in enriched Head Start Programs, but only the “Go! Books” children received the extra literacy intervention.  “Go! Books” children also showed significant improvements in self-regulatory behaviors as compared to control children, particularly for girls, 4-year-olds and children who ranked higher in program engagement.

A follow-up evaluation in Year Two showed that the program effects did not persist one year post-program. These findings suggest that a single year may not be sufficient to sustain long-term change in terms of literacy and social-emotional skills development. Providing additional opportunities for skill-building in these areas, including Go! Books booster sessions, may be crucial for longer-term success.

“Go! Books” was developed with support from the Mulago Foundation and was implemented in three CAS Head Start centers during the 2009-10 school year. The Year Two study followed a majority of children into kindergarten.  This work underscores how community-based organizations, foundations and research partners, working together, can create interventions of modest cost that improve children’s kindergarten-readiness, and how rigorous evaluation can assess what works and the dosage needed to produce these improvements.  

CAS plans to continue evaluation of “Go! Books” and to create a manual so it can be offered to all children in CAS Head Start programs.

The Children’s Aid Society is an independent, not-for-profit organization established to serve the children of New York City.  Our mission is to help children in poverty to succeed and thrive. We do this by providing comprehensive supports to children and their families in targeted high-needs New York City neighborhoods. Founded in 1853, it is one of the nation’s largest and most innovative non-sectarian agencies, serving New York’s neediest children. Services are provided in community schools, neighborhood centers, health clinics and camps. For additional information, please call Anthony Ramos at (212) 949-4938/ (917) 204-8214, email or visit