English Learning Program Loses Federal Funding

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The Moline Even Start Family Literacy program offers opportunities that assist families in furthering their education, learning English and American culture, learning new parenting skills, job skills, or even getting a GED. That may change as of June 30th, when the program officially loses all federal funding.George Carizey, the program coordinator said that 57 families and about 80 children are active at the programs classes at Lincoln Irving Elementary School and Bethel Wesley Church in Moline. The state of Ill. usually
recommends that at least thirty families are served for similar programs in Peoria and Springfield. Most of the students are Hispanic females with children and are not able to attend without the childcare. The Floreciente neighborhood had an ESL (English as a Second Language) class but only five students attended the morning session because of the lack of child care.“Childcare is an issue,” George Carizey said, “it is an issue of maintaining attendance.” Imelda Vega, a student in the program said that many students would be lost.“We simply can’t go to school,” Vega said, “the childcare is very important because it prepares the children for pre-school.”Vega’s daughter Paulina benefited from the program.
“At home, she knew a little but she was not ready.” Vega said. “She learned to play with other kids, learned shapes, drawings, and learned her name.”  She said that as a result of the program “she was ahead of the other students for pre-school.”
Another student Fabiola Muñoz comes to classes to get help in making doctor’s appointments, get faculty advice, and use the computer lab and to get information. She said that the staff helps motivate parents and children alike.
“Sometimes, you don’t know what age level your child should be at.” Muñoz said. “You would think it’s not much but they help in a variety of ways.”
Instructor Mary Knepp said that the more advance students go to college for college student ESL. Some of the GED students go on to college as well.
The program may continue in some way next year but without adequate funds, including childcare – a popular necessity for many students – would no longer serve the community.
To raise funds for the summer session, the Moline Even Start is having a taco dinner that is open to the public. The event takes place on Thursday, March 29 at Bethel Wesley Church, 1201 13th Street, Moline, Ill. from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $5 for adults, $3 for children and the dinner includes tacos, desert, and a drink. Tickets may be purchased in advanced by calling (309) 757-0350, visiting Bethel Wesley or at the door.

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