Free English classes for Head Start parents starting in February

  Learners in a recent CAAS class.

Learners in a recent CAAS class.

The goal is to give parents practical, applicable English skills that will allow them to advocate for themselves and their children.
— Ginger Sanders, Head Start Parent Resource Supervisor

Non-English speaking Head Start parents will once again have the opportunity to begin learning English at no cost through CAAS.

For the past six years, CAAS has referred non-English speaking adults to other local organizations offering English courses, where would-be students often faced long waitlists. Family Advocates at CAAS also noticed that the available classes were designed for more intermediate and advanced learners, while many Head Start parents were only just beginning to learn the language and would benefit from introductory classes.

To meet this need, CAAS’ Head Start team developed a program to provide free beginner English classes to 15 parents in Somerville and Cambridge Head Start, laying a critical foundation for these parents to communicate with their children’s teachers, health care providers, their neighbors, and other community members.

“The goal is to give parents practical, applicable English skills that will allow them to advocate for themselves and their children,” said Ginger Sanders, Head Start Parent Resource Supervisor.

As parents progress to intermediate levels of proficiency, they will be referred to the more advanced English courses available through SCALE and other resources.

Research from The Brookings Institution has found that adults with limited English proficiency earn 25 to 40 percent less income than their English proficient counterparts. Even though most adults with limited English skills do have high school diplomas - and 15 percent even hold college degrees - these workers are often employed in lower-paying jobs and fewer industries than their peers with more English-speaking skills.

The first section of courses is planned for February to May. Ideally, the same group of parents will gather again in the fall and following spring to continue learning, but future sections are dependent on funding.

Classes will be held Wednesday and Friday mornings at the CAAS office in Union Square and begin Feb. 14. There may still be seats available for this course; contact Ginger Sanders at gsanders@caasomerville.org or 617-785-3663 to enroll.

Kate Berliner