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Latino State News

Metro Chicago Latino Parent Leadership Program to Train 1,000 by End of its Third Year

“Abriendo Puertas” (“Opening Doors”) Trains Latino Parents to be Child’s First Teacher

Having trained more than 500 local Latino parents since 2010, the Metro Chicago Abriendo Puertas (“Opening Doors”) parent leadership and advocacy program, a national curriculum being offered locally through the Latino Policy Forum, announces its goal to train a total of 1,000 local parents by the end of its third year. With a train-the-trainer workshop to be held in Chicago from November 26-28, this third cohort marks the first time that Abriendo Puertas will be offered with locally-trained facilitators. The program aims to mitigate stubborn Latino education achievement gaps by empowering children’s first teachers—their parents—to build a strong academic foundations in their homes.

“One-in-four Illinois children under the age of 5 is Latino. But if we don’t tackle the status quo Latino student’s academic outcomes, we’ll likely see half of these students drop out before they finish high school,” said Sylvia Puente, executive director of the Latino Policy Forum. “Abriendo Puertas aims to transform this achievement gap before it starts, using the proven cultural strengths of Latino families—and we’re so pleased that our Chicago-based, home-grown facilitators will tailor this national program to the needs of our local communities this year.”

Abriendo Puertas is an evidence-based parent leadership program designed primarily for low-income, Spanish-speaking parents of newborns to children up to 5 years old. The interactive curriculum focuses on cultural values, key strengths, and experiences of Latino families and was developed in partnership with Latino parents, researchers, and program specialists. Using a unique train-the-trainer model where participants become trainers for other participants, the program has reached more than 22,000 families in 31 states since its inception in 2007.

First implemented in Metro Chicago in 2010, Abriendo Puertas’ successes in the region include:

·      Improved confidence in fostering early language development: Before the program, 22 percent of parents lacked confidence in their ability to help their child learn language. After the program, almost all (83 percent) felt self-assured in their role of stimulating language learning.

·      Increased knowledge about school expectations: At the start of the program, 18 percent of parents claimed to know “little” or “nothing” about school expectations versus 74 percent sharing that they had increased knowledge at the program’s end.

·      Confidence in educating children before formal schooling: At the program’s end, almost all of participants (98.5 percent) felt confident teaching their children basic skills for kindergarten, such as counting, and learning colors or letters.

With support from the Pritzker Children’s Initiative and the McCormick Foundation, Latino Policy Forum-trained local facilitators will lead the upcoming “train-the-trainer” session, teaching new representatives from 14 Latino-serving organizations how to deliver the program to Spanish-speaking parents at each of their sites. Participating organizations receive the training free of charge, along with a stipend to implement Abriendo Puertas at their program sites. Building on the program’s success in training 540 parents in the first two years of the program, the Forum hopes to reach an additional 500 parents in its third year, for a total of over 1,000. The third year of Abriendo Puertas runs through 2013.

The following organizations—both new and veterans to the program—will implement Abriendo Puertas at their program sites this year: Berwyn School District, Carole Robertson Center for Learning, Casa Central,  Casa Tepochcalli, Catholic Charities, Centro Romero, Chicago School District 21, Childserv , Family Focus DuPage, Family Focus Elgin, Fellowship Connection, Gads Hill Center, HACES (Hispanic Americans Community Education & Services), La Voz, Logan Square Neighborhood Association, Mount Sinai Hospital, National Museum of Mexican Art, Richard Yates Elementary School, Through a Child’s Eyes, and the YWCA.