learn / 2016

Little by Little School Readiness Program

Little by Little School Readiness Program Play Video Play Video Play video on lblreaders.org

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Grants Challenge by Public Health Foundation Enterprises

Administered through the WIC program, Little by Little is an evidence-based early (ages 0 to 5) literacy program that significantly improves school readiness for low-income children in Los Angeles.


Are any other organizations collaborating on this proposal?

1) The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), 2) First 5 LA, 3) PHFE

Please describe your project proposal.

The LBL Public Policy Consultant has the primary responsibility for educating decision makers about LBL with a focus on: •providing expert and strategic guidance about how best to educate and inform public officials about the importance of early literacy education and LBL; •closely tracking how all public dollars are being allocated around early literacy (0-5) efforts and advising LBL about best strategies for pursuing such funding;&
positioning LBL as a national expert in early education.

Which of the learn metrics will your proposal impact?​

  • District-wide graduation rates
  • Proficiency in English and Language Arts and Math
  • Early education
  • Student education pipeline
  • Suspension and expulsion rates
  • Truancy rates in elementary and middle schools
  • Youth unemployment and underemployment

In what areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • County of Los Angeles

Describe in greater detail how your proposal will make LA the best place to learn?

WIC as a Platform for the Promoting Early Literacy and Health: Partnerships for Sustaining Impact In 2003, First 5 Los Angeles funded Public Health Foundation Enterprises (PHFE) and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) to develop and implement the Little by Little (LBL) School Readiness Program, an intervention designed for participating WIC families. LBL was designed to engage parents in their children’s education, create a stimulating home environment, foster early literacy skills and significantly improve school readiness for underserved children living at or below the poverty level. The genesis of Little by Little was in understanding key health disparities that unfortunately have developed in low income communities. Research has consistently demonstrated that children born into poverty hear 30 million fewer words before they reach kindergarten than those who come from middle and higher income families. This is difference has come to be referred to as the “30 million word gap.”
Because of this gap, children born into poorer families tend to test lower on school readiness scores than those born into higher income families, and this disparity develops before kids are even five years old. The gap continues throughout their lives, affecting high school graduation rates, job prospects, income, health and wealth.Funded by First 5 LA, LBL reached over 118,000 children and pregnant women between 2003 and 2008. As published in the journal Pediatrics (Whaley et al., 2011), the LBL intervention was found to significantly improve children’s school readiness, and the program now continues in 10 WIC centers with seven partner agencies in Los Angeles County. Currently, LBL serves more than 70,000 children and pregnant women annually through renewed funding from First 5 LA. At a cost of approximately $52/child, LBL represents a low-cost, low-dose program that has the potential to reach hundreds of thousands of low-income children and families who often are not served by other family engagement and early literacy programs. Another unique aspect of this program is the distribution of corresponding educational handouts that WIC families receive. These handouts inform parents about age specific child development milestones which help educate parents about their child’s growth and development. PHFE’s Little by Little School Readiness Program would like to replicate this program in other Los Angeles County Communities. In order to do this, we must work with our local state and federal legislators/decision makers to advocate for systems change so that the long-term costs for LBL’s early literacy education is supported by public dollars either through USDA (as part of the WIC allocation),the Department of Education and/or through local public funding sources. We propose hiring a Public Policy consultant who will help create and implement a public policy/education strategy to engage legislators/stakeholders.

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.​

The Little by Little School Readiness Program has developed a comprehensive research and evaluation project to measure the success of the project. One such study was completed in 2008 and we are currently rigorously evaluating the program with a key measurement being school readiness (as measured by the Bracken scale) Bracken Basic Concept Scale-Revised (BBCS-R) is a revision of Bracken Basic Concept Scale (1984). It is used to assess to basic concept development of children in the age range of 2 years 6 months through 7 years 11 months. It is used to measure comprehension of 308 foundational and functionally relevant educational concepts in 11 subtests or concept categories: colors, letters, numbers/counting, sizes, comparisons, shapes, direction/position, self/social awareness, texture/material, quantity, and time/sequence. Of the 11 subtests, the first six compose the School Readiness Composite (SRC). The SRC can be used to assess children’s knowledge of those readiness concepts that parents and preschool and kindergarten teachers traditionally teach children in preparation for formal education.

How can the LA2050 community and other stakeholders help your proposal succeed?

  • Money
  • Advisors/board members
  • Publicity/awareness
  • Infrastructure (building/space/vehicles etc.)
  • Community outreach
  • Network/relationship support