“I’m blessed to be a part of a statewide Collaborative that’s working so hard to make that difference for Georgia’s children. It’s so exciting to know we can help a child open up the world of books and language to enable them to become more successful adults. I love educating the community, parents, and business leaders about the difference a book can make to a child. I’m blessed to work with so many passionate leaders across the state working toward the same goals.”

Rhonda Heuer, Executive Director

The statistic that only 34 percent of Georgia’s third graders are reading proficiently is one of the many reasons Polk Family Connection decided to get involved with the Get Georgia Reading Campaign. “We know that those outcomes can be improved and children can be more ready to start school and be more successful once they get there,” says Heuer.

The Polk Family Connection is involved in the Georgia Family Connection Partnership Early Childhood Health and Education (EC-HEED) cohort and receives funding from EC-HEED to support its focus on improving outcomes for children from birth through age 8 with a focus on increasing children’s access to educational and supportive services, Language Nutrition, and positive learning climates.

They are applying the four pillars locally by organizing TED-like talks, learning journeys, and regular Cabinet meetings. They support the Ferst Foundation to provide additional books to children in Polk County, assist Polk School District’s bilingual early literacy programs, and promote the local library summer reading/feeding programs. They created a Reading Oasis to give families a place for tutoring and provide Wi-Fi and Kindles to utilize online reading programs in their One Door Polk facility. They have purchased books for local agencies, child care centers, churches, and local events.  

The Polk Family Connection hosted a Latino Literacy Fair in 2015 that’s being rebranded as “Reading Around the World.” It will focus on literacy games connected to countries around the world, feature book giveaways, provide summer reading enrollment at the library and registration for Ferst Foundation, and offer valuable local resources.

The Collaborative is also promoting the four pillars as a framework for action across the state through their Peer-to-Peer Advisory Council with representatives from each region across the state.

To learn more about Polk Family Connection, visit their website.