3.3.5 Evaluation of the programs

This section summarizes what was reported by the parents, the practitioners and the directors of the centres as described in the three reports For My Child.

The children's participation has a positive effect on the families' attendance.

The parents appreciated the discussions, the learning and the resources. What was of most interest to them, however, was the opportunity to exchange ideas with other parents, which helped break the isolation that some of them felt. They also appreciated the participation of the children. The children's participation, moreover, had a positive effect on the families' attendance in the program. In fact, the first report of this research indicates that in the centres that offered programs that lacked a portion involving children's participation, the absentee rate was higher.

Because many families do not have access to resources in French, a number of program models, including Lire et écrire a la maison and Des livres dans mon baluchon, provide kits and pedagogical resources that families can take home. The kits include books, games and ideas for activities to do with the children at home. These kits are a very positive feature. Some centres also sent resources bye-mail, to the parents' great satisfaction.

In some cases, changes of location or date at the start of the programs and a lack of structure of certain workshops had a negative effect on participation.

Several parents expressed the wish that the programs last longer.

The practitioners and directors of the centres felt that the programs fostered improvement in spoken French, the development of cultural identity and, for the children, integration into French-language schools. They were satisfied with the partnerships with the schools, the child care centres and the other community organizations. They would have liked to have been able to recruit more fathers and were concerned about the lack of regular attendance of families, while observing that the presence of the children has a marked effect in reducing parents' absenteeism. Finally, they observed changes in the families' parenting skills, in what they had learned and in the frequency of their use of French.

It is important to note that the proportion of Francophones in the region in which a centre delivers its family literacy services may have an influence on the impact of the programs, especially with regard to the use of French at home. In fact, the frequency of the activities that parents did with their child increased significantly in all categories in families living in communities where English is the majority language (where, in their immediate surroundings, Francophones are a minority).Where francophones are a majority in their immediate surroundings, the frequency of the activities that parents did with their child also seemed to increase in nearly all of the categories, but the variances were much less significant than for Francophones in an immediate minority setting. There are two possible explanations. First, since the families already spoke French at home all the time, the margin for improvement is necessarily smaller. Second, it may be that a certain negligence sets in when one is not afraid of losing one's language. In communities where the Francophone population is in the majority, one can live in French all the time. Therefore, losing one's language is not a concern.

In all cases, parents, reported that they has learned strategies that they apply in their daily lives.