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24-Hour Teen Crisis Hotline:

1000 East High Street
Charlottesville, VA 22902

Phone: 434-296-4118
Fax: 434-295-2638
Email: info@cyfs.org

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Programs for Parents

Play Partners

Play Partners is a program that promotes the development of early literacy skills and the importance of reading in a child’s early years by introducing children and their parents to quality children’s literature while addressing the need for children in child care, particularly from low-income homes, to have literacy development experiences that are cognitively, emotionally, socially challenging and enjoyable and promotes school readiness. The program recognizes that many young children spend sizable portions of their waking hours in child care settings with child care providers who could benefit from support and encouragement in order to offer stimulating, educational play experiences. 

Teams of trained volunteers are assigned to visit their assigned provider’s home for a one hour session, once a week, from Oct. through May. About every four weeks a new story is introduced to the children by the volunteer Play Partners. Activities that emphasize and extend the concepts and vocabulary in the story are presented using a variety of methods including art, music, flannel boards, cooking, puppetry and creative drama. Each story has a carefully designed kit of activities for the volunteers to use when planning their sessions. The volunteers model techniques for teaching important school readiness skills for the providers. At the end of the 4 weeks, both the children and the provider receive a copy of the selected story. The children are excited to receive their own copy of the selected story and are highly motivated to “read” it at home with their family.

Research shows that children who enter kindergarten without the basic readiness skills needed for success continue to lag behind their classmates throughout their school years. The Play Partners program gives low- and moderate-income children the skills they need – a love of books, sitting and listening, taking turns – to enter kindergarten ready to learn and thrive. This foundation will serve them for many years to come.

Two hours a week is all that is needed to be a Play Partners Volunteer – One hour to prepare with your teammate and another hour with the children in a child care provider’s home. Play Partners sessions are held on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday mornings. The program begins in mid-September and ends at the end of May. There is a waiting list of providers wanting Play Partners in their child care homes. More volunteers are needed, and can be trained at any time of year.

Volunteers must have a love of children and enjoy seeing them grow. They must be willing to make a weekly commitment, and participate in two one-hour training sessions. Due to the need for consistency in the children’s lives, volunteers are asked to commit to the program for an entire school year (October-May). There is flexibility, however, so volunteers can be away from time to time. Substitutes are available. Volunteers must agree to have background checks.

Ways to Get Started:
  • Call Loretta Willis at 296-4118 x 248

  • Email Loretta Willis at lwillis@cyfs.org

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