Stronger Together: Toward More Literate Communities

Stronger Together: Toward More Literate Communities was led by Essential Skills Ontario and funded by the Office of Literacy and Essential Skills (OLES) of Employment and Social Development Canada. The project recognizes the importance of a society of fostering environments that expect, encourage and support literacy. Such a culture focuses on a suite of services for learning throughout an individual’s lifetime and the positive effects of learning passed down from one generation to the next within a family.  

Stronger Together focuses on four main providers of family literacy programs in Ontario: Ontario Early Years Centres, Parenting and Family Literacy Centres, public libraries, and community-based organizations.  The report noted that each one offers one or more programs, has one or more funding sources, and is accountable to one or more policy frameworks. This complex 'system' is for the most part uncoordinated, making it difficult to determine whether every community in Ontario is getting the appropriate suite of literacy and literacy-related services to meet their needs.

The report suggests more statistically-valid research must inform our understanding of the connections between adults and their children’s literacy and address some critical questions: What does a parent or caregiver specifically do that causes their child to adapt both an attitude and the skills necessary for lifelong learning?  And what longitudinal impacts does a parent or caregiver’s involvement have on their child’s socio-economic outcomes when they - in turn - become parents?

Stronger Together provides a strong impetus for thinking strategically about how we can support educational opportunities for children and parents. This will require us to think beyond the traditional program silos of children’s, adult and family programs, towards thinking more broadly about the economic and social benefits of achieving more literate communities in Ontario.