A little reading can go a long way.
So says Kim Doyon, a kinship support worker at the Sarnia-Lambton Children’s Aid Society. She recently launched the Story Stork program, delivering books to dozens of area children placed with family members through the agency.
Story Stork is modelled after the successful ‘Bookworm Program,’ which delivers monthly literacy packages to children in foster care in Ontario.
But kids placed in kinship care —with extended family members as opposed to foster homes — don’t qualify, so Doyon came up with a way to reach them as well with appropriate books.
“When I go for my home visits, that’s one thing that I find can be lacking,” she said. “I think kinship caregivers are so busy trying to meet the other needs of the child — emotional, medical needs — and that takes precedent.
“While it’s important that they have exposure to literacy, that might not be the first thing they think of.”
Doyon reached out to community groups like the Organization for Literacy, which has provided new books through its ‘Give a Book Campaign,’ along with monetary donations from Noelle’s Gift and the Wyoming Lions’ Club.
She’s also partnered with Scholastic for a discount on age-appropriate books, including indigenous-focused material.
The first packages went out in February — delivering books and helpful handouts for the caregivers — to 80 kids in kinship homes in Sarnia-Lambton. That number grew to 90 in April.
Doyon is hoping to have the packages delivered every other month, and welcomes donations from the community to help with shipping costs.
Sending them through the mail is one of the key components.
“Kids don’t get mail anymore; it’s part of their identity — getting something special with their name on it, and the address they’re living at. It’s about belonging to that home.”
Donations of new books are also welcome.
“Sometimes the kids don’t get to take their belongings with them, or they’ve lost things during their lived experiences, so a new book is a really big deal.”
And there’s nothing quite like reading a book at bedtime.
“Sometimes the kids don’t have existing relationships with the caregivers they go to, and they might not be feeling comfortable in the home,” said Doyon. “Reading books is part of a healthy bedtime routine, and can really help establish that connection.”
Anyone wishing to donate to the Story Stork program can contact Kim Doyon at 519-336-0623, ext. 311.