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Foundations in Family Literacy


Family literacy continues to gain wide-spread interest and acceptance as a promising cross-sectoral, sustainable approach to family education, support and services. In 2001, in response to the expressed need for a more systematic and comprehensive approach to professional development in family literacy the Centre for Family Literacy developed Foundational Training in Family Literacy.

Family literacy practitioners and academics from across Canada collaborated to develop a comprehensive Practitioners’ Resource and Trainers’ Guide through funding provided by the National Literacy Secretariat of Human Resources Skills Development Canada. The first national train-the-trainer event was held in Pictou, Nova Scotia, in October of 2001.

The training was initially delivered as a one week face-to-face course, with two workshops delivered each day. It was also adapted for two different on-line formats, in Ontario and Alberta, with delivery taking place over a period of 4-6 months. The Centre for Family Literacy also worked in collaboration with la fédération canadienne pour l’alphabétisation en français, to adapt and deliver the training in a francophone minority context. Approximately 30 trainings were delivered across the country over the next five years.

Ongoing Development

In 2006-2007, a review of the training was undertaken by the Centre. Following a national survey of family literacy practitioners, it was determined that new chapters should be added and that the entire training should be revised and updated. A new modular format was also proposed that would make the training more flexible and adaptable to a variety of contexts.

Funding to do this was work was received from the Office of Literacy and Essential Skills, HRSDC, in 2007 and it was completed in 2009. Additional funding support for development of new chapters was provided by: Alberta Advanced Education and Career Development, Public Health Agency of Canada, National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health, and 2010 Legacies Now.

The re-named Foundations in Family Literacy now comprises the following modules and chapters:

Module l Fundamentals of Family Literacy
Chapter 1 Understanding Family Literacy
Chapter 2 Social and Cultural Complexity in Family Literacy

Module ll: Literacy with Adults and Families
Chapter 3 Adult Literacy Learning in a Family Literacy Setting
Chapter 4: Working with Families in a Family Literacy Setting

Module lll Child Development and Emergent Literacy
Chapter 5 Understanding Children and Their Development
Chapter 6: Understanding Emergent Literacy

Module lV Family Literacy in the Community
Chapter 7 Community Building and Community Partnerships
Chapter 8 Family Literacy in Immigrant and Refugee Families
Chapter 9 Family Literacy in Aboriginal Families

Module V Family Literacy Across Contexts
Chapter 10 Family Literacy and Health
Chapter 11 Family Literacy Goes to School
Chapter 12 Family Literacy and Libraries

Module Vl Leadership in Family Literacy
Chapter 13 Evaluating Family Literacy Programs and Projects
Chapter 14 Taking Up Research in Practice in Family Literacy
Chapter 15 Administering Family Literacy Programs and Projects

Objectives of the Training

This training program helps organizations, managers, and facilitators:

  • Develop and offer services and programs consistent with the core principles of an integrated and strengths-based approach to family learning and well-being
  • Identify the areas where changes in perspective or practice can make meaningful differences in outcomes for family literacy and support programs
  • Increase interagency collaboration in achieving outcomes-based goals of family literacy and support programs

A Family Literacy Certificate Program

In 2007-2008 a 200 hour Family Literacy Certificate Program was established at Vancouver Community College using Foundations in Family Literacy as the content for its six courses. Plans are currently under way to adapt all six modules for an on-line format and to make this on-line training available to literacy practitioners and those in related sectors across the country.

For more information on this project, please call 780.421.7323 or e-mail

11642 142 St NW  Edmonton AB  T5M 1V4
780.421.7323 | Fax 780.421.7324