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American Indian Preschoolers Focus of Parent Outreach Effort

My colleague Diette Courrege, who covers rural education issues, has a very interesting post on her blog today about an intensive effort under way to make sure American Indian children start their K-12 careers on solid footing.

Funded by a federal Investing in Innovation, or i3, grant, Project BabyFACE is sending parent educators into American Indian homes with preschoolers to help families better understand and support early child development and learning.

According to Diette's reporting, the program includes a number of objectives, including supplying the families with books to each child before they start kindergarten, preventing child abuse and neglect, increasing parent knowledge of parenting practices, and supporting Native language and culture.

Parent educators, who come from the communities in which they work, are currently working with more than 700 families in rural, tribal communities spanning from Arizona to North Carolina. Their work is very hands-on and labor intensive, and focuses a lot on helping families support healthy development of their young children. Their visits happen every other week.

American Indian students, many of whom live in poverty, trail significantly behind their peers in academic achievement on many measures, making a robust focus on the healthy physical, emotional, and intellectual development of the youngest children in these communities a wise investment.

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