At CCANO, education is for people of all ages from all backgrounds, which is why there is an equal chance of seeing grandfathers and seven-year-olds in attendance at Immigration and Refugee Services’ Family Literacy Services (FLS). FLS is a free, open, and informal tutoring service that helps immigrant and refugee families in English language instruction focusing on schoolwork, Hi-Set preparation in Spanish, financial & computer literacy, naturalization preparation, and workforce readiness.
FLS began after clients expressed a need for a more flexible learning environment and trusted CCANO as an ESL leader. Our ESL classes, offered mornings and evenings in Jefferson and Orleans parishes, are incredibly effective, but the hours and frequency are not necessarily viable for some people who have children, are enrolled in school, or work multiple jobs. By removing as many barriers as possible, FLS creates an approachable environment where families can achieve their education goals together. Since starting in March, attendance has grown exponentially, proving the necessity of these services.
Located in Metairie next to the Hispanic Apostolate, children, teens, and adults can “drop-in” for any length of time on Monday and Thursday from 3pm – 5pm and Fridays from 10am – 3pm. Students who come to practice English work with tutors in a textbook, practice speaking, and use digital learning programs. Citizenship students work with tutors to learn U.S. History and prepare for their naturalization exam. Children work with tutors to do their written homework, read books, play educational games, and make arts & crafts.
The structure of FLS is unique with students and tutors working together one-on-one or in small groups. This system is more individualized than most ESL classes, and students have the autonomy to dictate their goals. The majority of FLS students are already learning English but need extra practice, and our staff members have noticed quite a few teenagers in attendance.
Many of the young people who attend FLS are enrolled in public school by day but want to further improve their English skills. Because their parents do not speak English, their schools rely upon them to translate information to their parents. However, they are just learning English themselves, so the burden is even more difficult. FLS’ flexible schedule and lack of age limit directly address this issue.
“We invite family members of all ages to participate. We want children to come in with mom and dad so that they can learn together, which means the family won’t need to worry about childcare, and they have an opportunity to spend quality bonding time together. This also takes the pressure off of young children to interpret for their parents,” shares Sharon Moscoso, co-founder of FLS.
No day looks the same at the Family Literacy center in terms of how many students will attend, the age of the students, or what each student will need. However, there is one constant – each day at FLS, happy families grow closer to their educational goals with supportive volunteers by their side in a welcoming space.
To get involved as a volunteer, please contact Lea Robinson at [email protected] or 504-310-6893. If you know someone who could use these services, call 504-310-6860 for times and availability.