By Staff Reports
(Victor Valley) —Last week, the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Children and Families Commission of San Bernardino County (First 5) to offer an online high school diploma program for qualified parents of enrolled Head Start or Early Head Start children.
The program will be offered through the San Bernardino County Library and will be open to Preschool Services Department (PSD)-referred parents who are at least 19 years of age. Before enrollment, an applicant must complete an interview, online assessment, and prerequisite course.
“This is an amazing opportunity to completely change the lives of 100 families, to potentially lift them out of poverty and to provide a much brighter future for their children,” says County Preschool Services Department Director Diana Alexander.
Annually, PSD serves more than 6,000 Head Start and Early Head Start families. Nearly all (94%) of PSD families are living at or below the poverty level. Over 35% of those parents in the programs enter without a High School Diploma or GED as adults.
Under the online High School Diploma program, each learner will be paired with an academic coach who provides the parent with an individual career path, offers ongoing guidance, evaluates performance, and connects the student with the resources needed to succeed. Students will be given up to 18 months to complete the 18 credit program.
“The opportunity is made possible by the State Library’s generous contribution to improving adult learning in our region,” explains Leonard Hernandez, Deputy Executive Officer for the San Bernardino County Library. “The match provided by First 5 and implemented for the parents of Preschool Services, again shows the collective impact that is created when we all work together to accomplish the County’s Vision.”
Research shows that a lack of High School Diploma or GED attainment promotes the continuous cycle of poverty.
“Education is the key to lifting families out of poverty,” says San Bernardino County Supervisor and First 5 Past Chair Josie Gonzales. “Each year that a person spends in school accounts for a ten percent increase in their potential earnings.”
In addition to poverty, data also indicates a higher risk of child abuse in families where the mother does not have a High School Diploma.
“The vicious cycle of poverty and violence will likely continue unless we execute a life-changing intervention through education,” states Gonzales.
“The County Board or Supervisors commends the County Library, Preschool Services Department, and First 5 for bringing this much-needed resource to our community,” concludes Gonzales.