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Arizona Superior Court in Pima County
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Pima County Juvenile Court Launches "Reading 2Gether" Foster Care Literacy Program

 

Reading 2Gether Program Introduced by Pima County Juvenile Court, the Arizona Department of Child Safety, and Pima County Public Defense Services

Friday, March 18, 2022 by Arizona Superior Court in Pima County

Building Relationships One Book at a Time

 

A dynamic collaboration between court, county, and state agency launched a baby and toddler literacy program designed to promote meaningful connections between parents and their children in foster care.

Reading 2Gether,” sponsored by the Pima County Juvenile Court Center, Pima County Public Defense Services/Office of Children’s Counsel, and the Arizona Department of Child Safety, aims to nurture childhood literacy, strengthen language development, and enhance family bonding opportunities.

Reading 2Gether will encourage, through early reading interactions, the relationship between a child and parent during the journey toward reunification or a final placement situation. Funded through a generous contribution from Pima County Public Defense Services, the Reading 2Gether program will provide participating families and caregivers with children’s books in the family’s language, a blanket, and a carry bag.

“Reading 2gether will assist in strengthening the parent-child relationship through regular, ongoing, meaningful contact which is supported by the child’s placement,” said Pima County Juvenile Court Judge Joan Wagener, co-chair of the Reading 2gether workgroup. “These sessions will also lay a foundation for early childhood literacy and language development. The simple act of reading with a child, even virtually, can do so much to foster bonding and attachment between parent and child and increase the child’s vocabulary and school readiness.”

At least twice each week, the biological parent and placement will be in contact online or by phone, identical book at hand. The child, snuggling the blanket supplied after the parent sleeps with it, will be encouraged and helped by their caregiver in following along in the book while the parent reads aloud.

Shared reading builds a sense of safety and trust. Quiet time spent reading together positively supports and nurtures the bonding and attachment process between parent and child, and acts as a foundation for literacy development. Pint-sized listeners in the Reading 2Gether program will hear and learn new vocabulary, exercise active listening skills, and enjoy calm, predictable connections that will help ease their loneliness and anxiety.

Reading 2Gether is a derivative of Hon. Constance Cohen’s “2-4-2 Program” within the Iowa Courts Safe Babies Court Team, and a collaboration of the Building Blocks Committee, a group of local court-based, legal, and agency stakeholders addressing the needs of children and families involved with the juvenile dependency court and child welfare system.

For more information, or to enroll in the Reading 2Gether program, please contact Arizona Department of Child Safety Community Coordinator Tasha Gamez at 520.209.1031 or tasha.gamez@azdcs.gov.