Family Literacy in Canada

Authored by: Linda Shohet

Handbook of Family Literacy

Print publication date:  April  2012
Online publication date:  August  2012

Print ISBN: 9780415884570
eBook ISBN: 9780203841495
Adobe ISBN: 9781136899126


 Download Chapter



Family literacy as a defined practice in Canada took shape in the late 1980s and early 1990s. It was often modeled on American, British, or other international programs, and built on diverse but unconnected programs and interest groups that had been established across the country as early as the 1970s in schools, libraries and various community settings (Skage, 1995; Thomas & Skage, 1998). Literacy development in general was given impetus in 1988 by the creation of a federal National Literacy Secretariat (NLS) to prepare for International Literacy Year in 1990. The NLS was also a political response to a 1987 adult literacy survey conducted by a large newspaper group that produced shocking headlines. Family literacy, identified as one funding stream by the NLS, benefited from that support for more than a decade and a half. In the past 20 years, international models, such as Storysacks or HIPPY (Storysacks Canada, 2001; HIPPY Canada, 2011), have been adapted, and unique models have been developed for aboriginal programs and health settings (Montreal Children’s Hospital, 2011; National Association of Friendships Centers, 2007). Knowledge and expertise have deepened through development of training programs for providers, including a recent college-level certification, and resources have become more accessible to program providers through on-line libraries and web sites. Family literacy programming, however, has lost ground in the last decade because of shifts in policy and funding. Adult basic education and literacy policy has become more targeted to workforce skills and employability outcomes, reducing an important strand of funding that had supported growth for two decades. Meanwhile, early childhood education and care initiatives have seen increased policy and funding support across the country, with selected family literacy activities integrated into these programs, often delivered through family resource centers or health agencies. Nevertheless, despite the many continuing programs and activities, many other family literacy programs in all parts of Canada have closed or downsized in the last 4 years, or become archived web pages (Movement for Canadian Literacy, 2008).

Search for more...
Back to top

Use of cookies on this website

We are using cookies to provide statistics that help us give you the best experience of our site. You can find out more in our Privacy Policy. By continuing to use the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.