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Early Literacy
& Brain Development

In the first five years of life, everyday experiences and

relationships stimulate brain development, creating millions

of new neural connections (synapses) every second. These

connections enable basic brain functions – movement,

communication, emotion, etc. – and provide the foundation

for all future behavior, learning, and health. Children’s daily

experiences during these early years determine which brain

connections develop and which will last for a lifetime.

As such, the amount and quality of care, stimulation,

and interaction they receive is critically important: adults who give attention, respond to, and interact with young children are literally building those children’s brains.

The ECA is working to ensure children in Onondaga

County are kindergarten-ready by advancing strategies

that promote safe, responsive, and nurturing early learning environments and empower parents/caregivers in their role as their children’s first and most important teachers.

Early Literacy & Brain Development.jpg

Key Initiatives 

Talking is Teaching: Talk, Read, Sing

--- Launched in 2017 ---

Talking is Teaching: Talk, Read, Sing is a public awareness and action campaign developed by

Too Small to Fail that helps parents recognize their power to boost their children’s early brain

and vocabulary development through simple, everyday actions. Aimed at increasing early literacy opportunities for all children in Onondaga County, the initiative has three core components:


Messaging CampaignRobust campaign includes branding, promotional materials, social media, and community outreach.


Home Visiting Tote Bags: Tote bags filled with branded materials, books, and age appropriate toys distributed through home visiting programs (Goal = 1,000/year).


Pediatric Practice Outreach: Free books, branded bibs, and T-shirts distributed at well-child visits.


Increase the daily talking, reading, and singing that parents and caregivers do with children birth

to five so children enter school

ready to learn.

  • Instagram
  • Facebook

--- Launched in 2018 ---

Launched in Onondaga County in 2018 by Catholic Charities of Onondaga County, ParentChild+ is a national, evidence-based literacy and parenting model that provides parents with the knowledge and resources to build school readiness where it starts: in the home. Extensive scientific research has found that this model significantly improves parent-child interactions, increases school readiness and later school success, and reduces risks of child abuse and neglect.


The ParentChild+ Core Model empowers parents as their children’s first and most important teachers and helps them create learning-rich environment in their homes. Twice a week for two years, a trained specialist visits the home and shows parents how they can help their child learn, grow, reach developmental milestones, and feel confident and safe. There is no cost for the program, and free books and toys are provided during the visits, along with guidance on using them.


The ParentChild+ Family Child Care Model (FCC) builds on the success of the Core Model to reach even more children through family or home-based child care. Early Learning Specialists work with family child care providers to offer professional learning support that capitalizes on their talents and passions while strengthening their observational and reflective capacities. Over the course of the 24-week program, family child care providers receive 48 home visits and acquire a library of books, educational materials, and guide sheets that support the facilitation of learning through play.


Increase the school readiness

of participating children.


Sue O'Bryan

Program Coordinator

ParentChild+/Catholic Charities

(315) 466-4706