Bridging the Gap for Daycares and Preschools

Group of summer school kids receiving books for Group Summer Reading.

Melanie Hornbeck Esp

On September 7, Melanie Hornbeck Esp, Outreach Librarian at the Laramie County Library System (LCLS), presented “Bridging the Gap: Inclusive Summer Reading for Daycares and Preschools” at the Association of Rural and Small Libraries (ARSL) 2017 Conference in St. George, Utah. This workshop addressed the difficulties that daycares face when participating in summer reading and highlighted the successful Group Summer Reading program at LCLS.

Group Summer Reading was introduced at LCLS in the summer of 2015 as a way to help daycares, summer schools, and other groups of children participate in the summer reading program despite limited transportation. This new program allows daycares and schools to sign up as a group, complete summer reading together, and have books and other prizes delivered to them onsite. Due to the simplified registration and completion system, over 35 groups participated and more than 1,700 children received books.

Melanie performing storytime at a daycare.

LCLS provides many services to daycares and preschools throughout the year. Every month, storytellers from the Youth and Outreach Services (YOS) division, including Melanie, visit more than 40 daycares in Laramie County. With a traveling cart filled with books, puppets, and flannelboard stories, they perform storytime to more than 1,000 children each month. Whether it’s an in-home daycare, childcare center, church preschool, or government-funded facility like HeadStart, the children are always excited to hear the words, “The library’s here!”

While providing services to these children is incredibly valuable, it is just as important to reach their childcare providers. Each licensed daycare in Wyoming is required to complete a certain number of STARS (Statewide Training and Resource System) hours each year, and now they can receive continuing education credits at the Laramie County Library System. Melanie began teaching and coordinating childcare provider workshops in 2013 as a way to help these providers earn STARS hours. By building relationships with other STARS trainers and accredited professionals, the library has hosted workshops on everything from fire safety to SIDS awareness, sign language basics to early literacy tips. These workshops have become a lifeline for many childcare providers as they work to maintain their licenses.

For more details on daycare and preschool outreach in Laramie County, and what you can do to reach these groups, contact Melanie Hornbeck Esp at (307) 773-7229 or mhornbeck@lclsonline.org.

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