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Even Start Family Literacy Program

Even Start is a free family literacy program for APS parents who are learning English and who have children under the age of 10, to be effective partners in their children's education.



Even Start utilizes a nationally recognized 4-component model of family literacy programs:

Adult Education

English classes for parents are offered 4 days a week, by highly qualified, experienced teachers.  Supplemental, leveled literacy instruction is also provided in small groups.  Students are placed into basic or intermediate English classes.  The teachers use a variety of strategies to provide practice in written and spoken language.



Information about effective parenting is incorporated into many of our English lessons.  Topics include homework, positive discipline, literacy development, nutrition, academic vocabulary, parent involvement in schools, and many others. Guest speakers often provide important information for parents in our community.


PACT (Parent and Child Together) Time

Once a week, the parents in Even Start participate in a hands on activity in their child’s class.  This may include an activity based on a read-aloud, an art project, music and dance, outdoor play, or cooking together.  Parents who only have school aged children spend this time working on APS curriculum activities.  This may include iPad apps, math vocabulary, practicing parent teacher conferences, and much more.


Early Childhood Education

While the parents study each day, their young children between the ages of 1 and  4 receive high quality, structured education on sight.  The early childhood staff offers a variety of developmentally appropriate activities to encourage language development, literacy skills and family involvement.

Other Components

Guest Speakers from the Community

Even Start welcomes guest speakers to our program several times a year. Some past speakers have come from other APS programs, Arlington County Partnership for Children and Families, AFAC, Parks and Recreation, Arlington County Police and Fire Departments, Doorways for Women, elected officials and other government and community programs.

Field Trips

Even Start goes out to the community. Parents have ventured to restaurants and grocery stores to practice their English. Whole family field trips are taken to museums, libraries, and other community programs.


Sara Mulrooney, Even Start Coordinator

The program is housed at The Arlington Career Center but serves qualifying families from throughout Arlington County.  Classes are held Tuesday through Friday from 9:00 until noon or 10:45 until 1:45.  Breakfast and lunch are provided.