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Without State Funds, Most Of Wyoming's Family Literacy Centers Plan To Close

Aaron Schrank

Six of the state’s seven family literacy centers expect to close their doors, after lawmakers voted to eliminate the statewide program’s $3.3-million budget.

Jim Rose is executive director of the Wyoming Community College Commission, which oversees the statewide family literacy program.

Rose says the centers pair early childhood learning with adult education, essentially helping multiple generations build literacy skills together.

“That was a coupling that really pulled together the parents and the children,” says Rose. “And that’s going to be—in some of these communities—a service no longer available. There aren’t things that are going to step forward and fill that gap, because this is a program that was unique.”

Wyoming’s seven programs—which have served about a thousand children and parents in the past year—are only funded through June. Administrators at six of the seven centers say they are likely to close their doors on June 30, when current funding runs out.

Teton Literacy Center in Jackson is the only one that will certainly remain open, because it receives other sources of support.

Some of the other six centers say they  are scrambling to find community partners or state or federal grants to keep their doors open, but they don’t expect to secure funds in time.

Rose says the literacy program’s value was overlooked in a bustling budget session.

“We weren’t able to make the compelling argument that this is a program that really is worth the investment,” says Rose. “And so, as a consequence, it was eliminated by the legislature. Now we just have to just figure out how we’re going to close some of these down.”

There are family literacy centers in Jackson, Powell, Torrington, Cheyenne, Casper, Evanston and Gillette.

Rawlins was in the process of opening a center, but those plans were abandoned with the cuts announced in the legislative session that ended last week.

With the likely closures, hundreds of families will lose access to multi-generational literacy training and about 30 full-time and part-time staff will be out of jobs.  

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