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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Recognizes Libraries’ Role in Early Learning

May 10, 2012

By Susan Hildreth, IMLS Director

At an April 24 briefing at D.C's Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, I joined Yvette Sanchez Fuentes, the Administration for Children and Families' (ACF) Director of the Office of Head Start, in announcing that our offices and ACF's Office of Child Care would collaborate in an effort to encourage partnerships between federally funded early child care programs and public libraries. Today the agreement between our three offices became official with the issuance of an "Information Memorandum," ACF's  instrument for formal communication with the agencies it funds.

As the memorandum states,"Public libraries provide centers for learning in nearly every community in the United States, and it is important for children and families to learn about and recognize public libraries as a valuable resource. Libraries offer rich learning environments for children and their families and caregivers."

For years, nearly every public library in the country has been delivering children's programs. By expanding and publicizing this work, the partnership that becomes official today will allow more children and their families to take advantage of the services libraries have to offer and enhance the benefits they receive from ACF programs.

Early learning has been a high priority for IMLS, so I am thrilled to have formed this partnership with our friends at ACF. I urge all public libraries to reach out to the early care providers in their communities and find innovative and effective ways to work together.

Director of the Office of Headstart Yvette Sanchez Fuentes (left) and IMLS Director Susan Hildreth shake on agreement at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library.