Compuware, United Way aim to better child literacy

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Associated Press

Posted on January 1, 2013 at 8:01 PM

DETROIT (AP) — DMC Sinai Grace Hospital, software company Compuware Corp. and students from Detroit's College for Creative Studies are collaborating on a child literacy program that aims to get parents to read to their children for at least 15 minutes per day.

For some time, the parents of new children born at the Detroit hospital have been receiving a free children's book a month through the United Way for Southeastern Michigan's Early Literacy Initiative. The program aims to help children from poor families overcome a common education skills gap.

Last fall, the United Way turned to Compuware for help in tracking the families' participation in the program, the Detroit Free Press reported (http://on.freep.com/YM2HSp ).

The software company paired its concept developers with a dozen students from the college for a 15-week process of conceiving and designing an Internet and smartphone-based application to measure and report on the reading.

The finished product is due out by early spring and will offer encouragement and added incentives for the parents and children such as child-rearing tips and video game-like "badges" for each completed book.

Organizers say the goal is to engrain a reading habit in each child.

"This is a really important tool to help our kids be kindergarten-ready," said Amanda Itliong, family literacy manager for the United Way. "You think, 'Oh, I'll send my kid off to preschool and then they'll be ready for kindergarten.' But that's not enough. You have to start these habits in the home from Day 1."

The students got class credit for the work, and some are being considered for job openings once they graduate, according to Compuware.

"A lot of these things I didn't learn until after I left school," said Blake Almstead, a Compuware creative director and adjunct professor at the college.

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Information from: Detroit Free Press, http://www.freep.com

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