SOE News

Foundation for Child Development awards Young Scholar Fellowship to support Steve Knotek’s work to enhance school readiness of Latino children

A $178,000 award from the Foundation for Child Development will fund Steven Knotek’s ongoing work to enhance the emergent literacy skills and school readiness of Latino children. Madres Para Niños (“Mothers to Children”) uses an innovative group collaboration model to form a “community of children and parents.” 

The 120 children who will participate are English Language Learners from low socioeconomic families. They are the eldest children in their families and are preparing to enter either preschool or kindergarten.

Meeting in groups of six, the immigrant Latina mothers of these children will learn literacy skills to use with their children, such as storybook reading and conversation. They will become more familiar with the U.S. educational system and with community resources such as libraries. In addition, they will learn how to engage in proactive problem solving on educational issues.   

The groups will be facilitated by trained bilingual consultants. Mothers will attend a total of 10 group sessions, and their children will attend half of the sessions. As the mothers learn new skills, they will practice the skills when they interact with their children during the joint sessions.

The work is an extension of Knotek’s earlier work funded by a $20,000 grant from the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at UNC-Chapel Hill.

The Young Scholar Fellowships are awarded to young investigators from the behavioral and social sciences or in allied professional fields at U.S. colleges and universities. Knotek, who is an assistant professor of school psychology and early childhood education, earned his Ph.D. in 1996 from the University of California, Berkeley. 

Established in 1899 as a voluntary agency in New York, the Foundation for Child Development has evolved into a national philanthropic, grant-making organization. According to its Web site, its goal is to work toward the principle that “all families should have the social and material resources to raise their children to be healthy, educated and productive members of their communities.”