Literacy 2030 Meeting Summary: March 24, 2015
At our March, 2015 meeting, we got hands-on by examining a particular family’s journey from initially needing literacy services, to finding out about them, to program follow through and ultimately achieving their literacy goals. This a service design exercise known as "journey mapping."
This activity took into consideration all the different people and organizations involved, both visible and working behind the scenes, the obstacles this family would typically face in accessing services, every "touchpoint" they would come into contact with (a letter sent home from school, a conversation with someone at the library information desk, the bus they have to take to get to a tutoring session, etc.), all the separate decisions and actions that are made throughout the process, as well as the powerful emotions and societal context that effect such decisions. Each work group -- School Readiness, Grade-Level Literacy, and Family Literacy -- did this activity with the same family, focusing on the different aspects or family members that relate to their focus areas.
Frank, a high school dropout who has not yet completed his GED, is a single dad raising two children – a three-year-old girl (Lucy), and an eight-year old boy (Jayden). Frank is working part-time now, but his employment has been very sporadic over the past year, because unreliable transportation makes it difficult for him to keep a job.
He recently received a letter from his son’s school, saying that his eight-year-old needs additional reading help. They suggest getting him tested for visual and learning disabilities. Frank has also noticed Jayden struggling with homework, but Frank has trouble with reading and numbers himself, so it is difficult for him to help.
His daughter stays with a neighbor during the days when he works, but she is elderly and recently told Frank that she will no longer be able to help him with child care, so he needs to find somewhere else for Lucy to go.
We all considered the family's situation, and then we asked:
What is this family’s journey to achieving the increased literacy skills needed for their success?
How do they find out about services?
How can they access services, considering some of their obstacles?
How can we ensure follow-through?
The benefit of journey mapping is that it allows us to focus outward, thinking outside of our own small corner of a larger issue to understand what our customers/students/patrons really experience. What are the critical touch points throughout a person's journey? Where are things not working well? We can take that information and then come up with simple, implementable solutions which address these points by leveraging current resources.
There are of course big, systemic changes needed in order to achieve 100% literacy, but our goal for this meeting was to identify several small, easily implementable things that can be done right now to smooth out some of the kinks identified during our journey map exercise, and start making a difference by improving processes and making it easier for people to get the help they need. Think of it as biting into a cupcake versus an entire wedding cake. Both are satisfying, but one is a lot more manageable.
A few of our "cupcake" projects identified include:
Creating an easily accessible/distributable list of all available literacy services (for agencies, churches, apartment complexes, etc.)
Cross-train staff from different organizations so they are knowledgeable about what programs and services each offer, and therefore can better assist and refer people
Create and share a simple dyslexia screening form
Do a volunteer drive to increase the service capacity of existing agencies
Attendees were charged with making progress toward at least one of their "cupcake" projects prior to our next meeting, which will be Tuesday, June 23rd from 9 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at the SC Center for Children's Books and Literacy. I hope to see you there!
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