Parents want to know how to improve their child’s literacy skills. “Where is that new app or the new game that can teach my child to read faster?” you may think. But the answer is simpler than that. It’s story time! Think back to your childhood, story time gave us something to look forward to before bedtime every night. Exposure to books and reading aloud helps children acquire those literacy skills and reading skills you want them to develop.

Early literacy - Brightside Academy

The Brightside Academy Approach to Reading Skills

We at Brightside Academy continue to promote literacy skills initiatives in our academies with consistent reading or “circle time” across all age groups. Our goal is to increase literacy and to motivate reading at home. According to the New York Times, “Study Finds Reading to Children of All Ages Grooms Them to Read More on Their Own” a survey conducted of over 1,000 children ages 6-17 concluded that only 31% were read a book almost daily. “I don’t think that parents know how important that time and the role that it plays in children’s lives,” Kristen Harmeling said, a partner at YouGov. Not only does reading improve vocabulary, language development, and comprehension, but reading to your child unifies the family dynamic.” Children in the survey frequently cited reading aloud as a special bonding time with their parents.”

Develop Your Child’s Inner Voice

Reading aloud also helps children find their inner voice and develop a sense of “self” through story-telling. “Sharing books with children can also help them learn about peer relationships, coping strategies, building self-esteem and general world knowledge,” according to “Reading Aloud to Children: The Evidence” from

Dr. Seuss Craft - Brightside Academy

As well as relationship building, reading helps children develop phonologically. When reading aloud, children are able to associate sounds and pronunciation with written words by practicing sound patterns. According to, “When children do well at detecting and manipulating syllables, rhymes and phonemes, they tend to learn more quickly [how] to read.”

Literacy Experts Agree on the Benefits

Whether your child is 11-months or 11-years, reading out loud has no age limit. Just as you would transition from pop-up, picture books to nursery rhymes to 50+ pages of a Dr. Seuss story, you adjust the complexity of what you’re reading as your child grows. “It’s this idea of marinating children in higher-level vocabulary,” said Pam Allyn, founder of LitWorld.Org. Although there isn’t much evidence to support improved reading comprehension among older children being read aloud to, literacy experts say that if you increase the difficulty of your reading context, children can hear and understand more complex words that build confidence to tackle different forms of literature on their own.

Children reading and playing at Brightside Academy

So as you get your child cleaned up, dressed, and tucked into bed tonight, help your child learn to read by pulling out a book, any book, and reading it aloud. The long-term effects can be phenomenal across all stages of child development. You will enjoy quality time with your child while working on building literacy skills that will have a lasting impact on your child’s life.

Girl Holding Piggy Bank - Brightside Academy

Average child care costs are on the rise nationally. Many families looking for child care services are often challenged when considering work options against day care costs for their children. Parents in moderate income communities juggling multiple jobs and struggling to provide for their children face even more daunting choices.

Brightside Academy’s purpose is to provide all families access to an excellent early educational experience that prepares their children to be lifelong learners. For this reason we are proud to accept a variety of child care subsidy programs throughout our locations in New York, Philadelphia (PA), Pittsburgh (PA) and Ohio.

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Subsidized child care programs offer help paying for daycare, and pay for all or part of the cost for your child to attend an accredited child care program in your community.

There are a variety of child care subsidy programs available to families depending on the child’s age and the parent’s work or study status while the child attends an approved provider. Others take into consideration the parent’s income. This determines the copay for which the parent is responsible.

Families who choose to apply for child care subsidy programs are often confused and don’t know where to start. We have compiled a list of choices to help you sort through available subsidy programs. Here is what you need to know about obtaining help paying for child care in Pennsylvania, Ohio or New York:


PA Child Care Works (CCIS)Child Care Works through CCIS

Child Care Works provides help to parents looking for day care. Pennsylvania’s Child Care Information Services (CCIS) offices gather information about your family and look at available quality child care options that may work for you. Then they make referrals to providers based on your family’s needs. All of our Pittsburgh and Philadelphia locations accept payments through the Child Care Works program. Find a CCIS agency location near you or reach out to the Child Care Works Helpline at 1-877-4-PA-KIDS for additional information and options.

PA PreK Counts LogoPA Pre-K Counts (free for eligible families)

The PA Department of Education created PA PreK Counts to prepare children for kindergarten and help close the achievement gap. It seeks a great experience for families with teachers partnering along parents to achieve better outcomes in the child’s development. Additional information about the Pre-K Counts program is available on the PA Keys website. To enroll you must first select a provider. The provider then guides you on the process to register your child for the program.

Review the list of Brightside Academy locations offering the Pre-K Counts program.


ohioojdfsOhio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS)

The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) assists families in finding affordable child care. They refer families to safe, qualified child care providers for their children to attend while they work or study. Some families are required to pay for part of the cost of child care. The amount you pay depends on your income, family size and how many children need care in your household. Brightside Academy Ohio locations in Akron, Cleveland and Columbus accept ODJFS child care vouchers. Review the JFS County Agency Directory which includes listings of local child and family support agencies and their contact numbers. Click on the county name for information specific to where you live. The Ohio child care benefits program application is also available online.

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EarlyLearn NYC and HRA

New York’s Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) helps guide parents in finding affordable child care programs.

EarlyLearn_newlogoEarlyLearn NYC and HRA (Privately-run) are the two subsidized day care programs available to families. EarlyLearn NYC is contracted by the city. It helps families locate child care programs for children 6-weeks to 4-years-old.

HRA programs help paying for child care for children 6-weeks to 12-years old.

Eligibility for both programs is based on why care is required and the family’s income and size. The children’s ages are also taken into account. The ACS Child Care Options web page provides all of the information you need about the program and how to apply. Use the ACS Eligibility Wizard to find out if you are eligible for either the EarlyLearn NYC or the HRA program.

Find Bronx and Brooklyn New York Brightside Academy locations


HS-logoHead Start Program Information (free for eligible families)

The Head Start program was created over 50 years ago. It is geared toward children ages three to five from low-income families. Its goal is to provide quality early education and promote school readiness to children from at-risk communities. The program supports the children’s families as well with guidance and resources regarding health, nutrition and other social services available in their neighborhoods.

Early Head Start Logo

Early Head Start (free for eligible families)

Years after its creation, Head Start was revised to include infants and toddlers under Early Head Start. The program focuses on providing quality early development experiences to children 0- to 3-years-old. When the program is completed, kids can transition to the Head Start program or any alternate preschool setting that meets the needs of the child’s family.

Over 35 Brightside Academy locations offer the Head Start programs including three in Toledo, Ohio which are Head Start-only academies.

Applying for Head Start

The first step to applying for the program is finding an approved provider in your community. You will typically need to provide documents like income verification, a child’s birth certificate and current health record with vaccinations to see if your family qualifies for services. Once you are accepted, you are able to register for the program. To obtain specific details on the Head Start registration process, visit one of our Head Start academies.


At Brightside Academy early education and child care locations, parents have options to pay for care privately (cash, check or credit card), through employer programs or subsidies. There are multiple options available to families considering subsidized child care programs in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and New York. In this post we discussed PA’s Child Care Works (CCIS) and Pre-K Counts options, Ohio’s OJFDS child care program, New York’s HRA and EarlyLearn NYC options, and the national Head Start program. We hope this information helps you get a clearer picture of what is available to help paying for child care. In future posts we will feature families who applied for the programs and the process to obtain affordable child care for their children.

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