What Works to Support Families?

The What Works for Third Grade Reading: Family Supports working paper considers why formal and informal family supports matter for children’s third grade reading proficiency, outlines the connection with other factors that impact early literacy, and highlights options that have been shown to support families. The resource is one of 12 working papers that offer research-based policy, practice and program options to states and communities working to improve third grade reading proficiency.

Formal services and supports that help families secure necessities (such as food, housing and income) and that build on community protective factors contribute to children’s overall well-being and increase families’ abilities to deal with adversity and instability.1 The need for formal supports has increased as, coming out of the Great Recession, wages have stagnated while the cost of living continues to rise. Without economic supports, housing and child-care costs alone could consume nearly all the earnings of a low-income family with two children.2

Families connected to supportive informal networks and services are also strengthened in their parenting, health, well-being and resilience, and are better able to expose their children to activities and educational opportunities that will help them succeed.3 Positive social connections can help parents improve the way they interact with their children, the physical environment of their homes, their parenting skills and knowledge of child development, and their emotional health, all of which are associated with children’s cognitive, social, and emotional development.4

What Works for Third Grade Reading is a collection of 12 working papers that address whole-child, birth-to-age-eight factors that support children’s optimal development and improve reading proficiency. The resource was produced by the Institute for Child Success and the North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation, in collaboration with BEST NC, to support the work of the NC Pathways to Grade-Level Reading (Pathways) initiative.

Listen to a webinar that provides an overview of the working papers and shares other Pathways resources that may assist communities in improving outcomes for young children.

1Alliance for Early Success. (n.d.). Bridging State Policies for Children and Families. Retrieved February 27, 2017 from http://earlysuccess.org/sites/default/files/AESBridgingPaper6.pdf

2Imbery, L. (2015, January 7) Fact of the Week. Child Care Cost is Nearly Half of Income for a Family at the Poverty Level. Retrieved from http://www.chn.org/2015/01/07/fact-week-child-care-cost-nearly-half-income-family-poverty-level/#.WLRaffnyvIU

3Center for the Study of Social Policy. (2013). Social Connections: Protective and Promotive Factors. Retrieved from http://www.cssp.org/reform/strengthening-families/2013/SF_Social-Connections.pdf

4Schorr, L., Pathway to Children Ready for School, op cit.