Contact: Julie Titone, WSU College of Education, email@example.com, 509-339-6850
Doctoral Researcher Documents Skills of Latino Child Care Providers
PULLMAN, Wash.-Some Latino child care providers may not read and write well enough to fill out state licensing forms, says Cara Preuss, but that does not necessarily mean they're unable to care for children and help them learn.
With support from a federal grant, the Washington State University doctoral student plans to document which skills Spanish-speaking providers have, and which ones they need. The information, Preuss hopes, will benefit a major project aimed at improving Latino child care in Franklin County.
"When most people talk about literacy, they mean reading and writing traditional texts," said Preuss, who is finishing her graduate studies at WSU's College of Education in Pullman. "But literacy covers all the ways you can give and receive information, including computer and visual literacy. Somehow, these women have the intelligence and skills to operate, though their educational opportunities may have been limited."
As an example of a skill that day care providers bring to the job, Preuss mentioned a Mexican-American woman who teaches children to garden-something she learned from her father when she was a girl.
People who develop lessons for child care providers often aren't aware of what the caregivers already know, said Professor Joy Egbert, coordinator of WSU's Language and Literacy graduate program. She praised Preuss' persistence in obtaining a $30,000 Child Care Research Scholar Grant, which required a 100-page application. The grant is funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
What Preuss learns could ultimately influence state policy crafted by the Washington Department of Early Learning, and her research could be repeated in other settings. For now, she is working with Literacy and Educational Pathways for Latino Child Care Providers. The primary goal of Pathways is seeing that Latino children are ready to succeed in school by improving child care. The project involves a community coalition led by WSU Extension educators, and gets primary support from the Gates Foundation.
Preuss will write a case study about the project. She'll conduct interviews, volunteer at the literacy classes, and review archival data-including violations of state licensing codes.
"I'll see if there are common violations that need to be addressed in the WSU Extension classes for the Pathways participants," she said.
Preuss will publish her findings in her Ph.D. dissertation, which she expects to finish next spring. An experienced teacher, she hopes her next job will promote social justice for language-minority populations.
"I'm fascinated by countries that manage to educate their people and operate in more than one language," she said. "I have studied Spanish, Azerbaijani, Russian, French, Bislama, and American Sign Language; visited Vanuatu, Fiji, Uzbekistan, Egypt, Turkey, and Canada; and lived in Azerbaijan and Mexico. I am concerned about the education of students in the United States whose first language is something other than English and those students whose only language is English."
For more information on WSU's Language and Literacy graduate program, click here: http://education.wsu.edu/graduate/specializations/literacy/
For more information on the Pathways project, click here: http://wsunews.wsu.edu/pages/publications.asp?Action=Detail&PublicationID=11631