When policymakers talk about helping poor children achieve in the classroom, they often talk about the benefits of a two-generation approach. Rarely, though, can they offer much to parents of the most at-risk kids.
At a charter school in Washington, D.C., however, the entire education program promises to teach parents as well as kids. Operated by D.C.'s public school charter system, Briya Public Charter School enrolls nearly as many adults as it does kids. While children learn reading, math basics and social studies, their parents might be in a computer skills class or getting English-language instruction. They also take parenting classes and learn infant and toddler care.
All the classes, kids and adults, happen during school hours—there's child care for the littlest ones and preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds. And as a public charter school, Briya offers them free to everyone enrolled.
Attendance in adult classes isn't compulsory, according to a piece in The Atlantic about the school, but adult students are expected to commit two-and-a-half hours weekly to the program for a full school year.
The school also offers care for babies and toddlers. The school has three campuses, each of which are located within Mary's Center, a D.C. social-service and health clinic. In fact, many of Briya's students enroll in the school through referrals from the clinic, where they might have visited for health or welfare services.
Briya has three campuses, all located within Mary's Center, a D.C. social-service and health clinic, where parents are often referred Briya's programs.
The full-family services meets the needs of kids living in poverty in a way that programs like Head Start and other social services aimed specifically at children can't.
"Children might qualify for the federal Early Head Start program, for example, but that doesn't necessarily help their parents secure employment and navigate the job-searching process. And it's difficult for those children to achieve academically when their home lives are chaotic and lack basic necessities such as clothing and food," Fawn Johnson writes in the Atlantic piece on the school.