By Liahna Thomas

As a child care provider, I am constantly looking for ways to support learning and development in the infants, toddlers and preschoolers in my care. I have yet to find a program as comprehensive as Read to Succeed Buffalo's CARE Child Care. Read to Succeed Buffalo's program provides licensed child care providers with a plan to improve overall quality - but with a laser-like focus on increasing exposure to language and literacy-rich experiences.

As a small day care, we are very selective about the programs we incorporate into our day-to-day activities. After taking a huge leap of faith with Read to Succeed Buffalo, it quickly became clear to us how committed the literacy intervention specialists were to helping our children succeed. My staff and I participated in weekly on-site professional development while providing care for eight children, ranging from 6 weeks to age 5.

The literacy intervention specialists at Read to Succeed had one simple goal when they visited our site: to help our educators get our kids ready to succeed in school. Each learning activity is designed to gauge a child's strengths and weaknesses so individual learning needs are addressed before the child enters kindergarten. In addition to working with the child care providers to improve our practice and knowledge of child development, Read to Succeed specialists work one-on-one with each child during weekly site visits to ensure children are on track to thrive.

One of the unique aspects about Read to Succeed is the literacy support specific to educators working with a group of economically disadvantaged children of mixed ages. Rather than a classroom or formal learning center, Read to Succeed support is tailored specifically for licensed, home child care sites like mine.

In addition to implementing activities on-site and supplying child care providers with state-of-the-art literacy learning tools and methods, the program also enrolls the children in Read to Succeed's book distribution program that mails an age-appropriate, new book every month to children under age 5 at their home.

Based on a child's evaluation, Read to Succeed may connect a child with another services agency that can help with specific issues that have been identified through the screening and assessment provided. The partnerships with so many local organizations help us to address any learning or physical issue a child is experiencing in a prompt and effective manner, as early as possible.

Every child care center should strongly consider participating in Read to Succeed's CARE program. Read to Succeed is an organization that helps educators empower the children in their care to read at the earliest opportunity.

Liahna Thomas is assistant director of Antoinette's Angels Quality Child Care in the Buffalo Promise Neighborhood.