The city of Clarkston, not far from Atlanta, Georgia, is home to a phenomenally large population of refugees from around the world. In the last 25 years, it’s estimated that more than half of the population of about 8,000 people have migrated there from over 50 countries. With affordable housing, government programs, specialty grocery stores, and international churches, the city has been welcoming refugees officially and unofficially since the 1990s.
This is the Refugee Family Literacy Program in Clarkston. Downstairs is a preschool, and upstairs is an English as a Second Language program for the mothers of those preschoolers, all refugees, all non-native-English speakers. After their classes, the mothers and children come back together to engage in early literacy skills. The mothers and their kids sing songs, play games, and read books together.
The early years are incredibly influential. 90% of a child’s brain is formed in the first five years of life. A person with a strong early-childhood education is 17% more likely to graduate high school, and 20% more likely to stay out of jail. Refugee Family Literacy Program is working to give these families a boost in development that will affect their success in the rest of their lives.