Everyday life can be loud – especially for young mothers raising kids in urban Kansas City. But on a recent Tuesday afternoon, a side room in the Lucile H. Bluford Branch  of the Kansas City Public Library was a haven of quiet industry as a handful of women studied for the next phase in their lives.
The Even Start Family Literacy Program , a federally developed program managed by local literacy powerhouse the Upper Room , combines adult literacy instruction with teaching life skills to parents and children, separately and together. Its core principle: parents are the first teachers.
Five days a week, the Bluford Branch is home to the adult literacy portion of the program. In the large conference room, tutors prepare students for the high-school-equivalency GED  exams – a must-pass for those without high school diplomas who want to rise in the workforce. Meanwhile, their children, aged six months to 8 years, receive free child care and education, also provided by the Upper Room. Currently, nine mothers and 12 children are participating in the Family Literacy Program