Be a champion of a family’s future
The AVANCE Network operates several programs within the framework of a two-generation approach to family success. The largest of these programs are described below. Information on the specific programs offered by each Chapter can be found on individual Chapter websites.
AVANCE Parent-Child Education Program (PCEP)
Parents as All-Important First Teachers
PCEP is AVANCE’s core foundational program. This program teaches parents how to become their child’s first teacher and how to ensure that the home is the first classroom. While parents attend the PCEP sessions, their children receive care and instruction using the PCEP Early Childhood Education Framework. The framework, which can supplement other early childhood education curriculums, includes nine themes associated with developmentally appropriate activities that build on in-home instruction. In addition to early education and parenting education, the program provides parents with opportunities to develop social capital - a network of support through connections within their cohort and within their community. PCEP includes three main components: 1) parent education, 2) socialization through toy making, and 3) community engagement and advocacy:
Parenting Education Class (1 Hour)
The parent education component is delivered through a classroom-based structure where a trained AVANCE Parent Educator implements a lesson from AVANCE’s comprehensive, bilingual parenting curriculum. The purpose of the curriculum is to teach parents how to become their child’s first teacher and ensure the well-being of their children through mastery of various topics such as child development stages, health and safety, hygiene, needs of children, child and family nutrition, child abuse and neglect, substance abuse during pregnancy and the potential effects on the developing infant, positive discipline, and social and emotional needs. Delivering this curriculum in a group setting provides opportunities for parents to learn together and from one another.
Toy Making Class (1 Hour)
One of the most unique components of PCEP is the toy making curriculum. Facilitated by trained toy makers, parents are guided through a process whereby they create educational toys for their children from typical household materials. The purpose of toy making is to give parents tools to utilize to play with their children in an educational way, increasing serve and return, brain development, language acquisition, hand-eye coordination, visual discrimination, and auditory discrimination. To facilitate the process each toy is accompanied by a guide, called a Possibility Sheet, that gives parents options for how to utilize the toys. In addition to making the toys together, parents develop additional skills during the toy making sessions (i.e., sewing) and practice using the toys with each other, which increases confidence, communication skills, and connection.
Community Resources (1 Hour)
During the community engagement and advocacy hour of PCEP, AVANCE provides parents with opportunities to develop a network of support between each other and within the community. Resource connection can take various forms, in some instances AVANCE staff provide information about the availability of community services and resources (including eligibility requirements), in other instances community speakers are invited to come share details about their support services, and in all instances parents share experiences and needs amongst each other, and receive support from each other and staff.
The PCEP has been implemented with thousands of the hardest-to-reach families and children for the past 46 years and has shown great impact on parents and children. Parents who participate in PCEP experience increases in knowledge of early child development and improves parenting skills. A study conducted by the Intercultural Development Research Association (IDRA) also found that PCEP alumni reported higher family income and rates of homeownership after graduating from the program.
Head Start Programs
Head Start is a comprehensive program to support children ages three to five years old for low-income families. Rich learning experiences, designed to help children developmentally, socially, emotionally, and physically, contribute to a child’s readiness for school and beyond.
Head Start programs promote children’s growth and development in an engaging learning environment through a variety of services, including:
- Early learning: The quality of adult-child interpersonal interactions through planned and spontaneous play contributes to the child's development of cognitive and language skills that support positive social skills and mental health.
- Health: In order to explore and interact with their environment, children need healthy motor, perceptual, and physical development, which is supported by nutritious meals and regular health and development screenings, as well as oral health and mental health support. To ensure children receive these services, AVANCE can connect families with certified medical, dental, and mental health professionals.
- Family wellbeing: Parenting programs support and strengthen parent-child relationships and engage families around children’s learning and development. Parents also receive support to achieve their goals, which might include housing stability, continuing education, and financial security.
To learn more about AVANCE Head Start services available in the Rio Grande Valley visit www.avance.org/headstart.
Early Head Start Programs
Early Head Start is an early education and family support program for low-income families that targets expectant mothers and children ages six weeks to three years old, the prime time to influence the child's developmental outcomes. Promoting healthy child development, this program inspires parents to reach their full potential.
Although both the Early Head Start and Head Start programs prepare children for continued growth, development, and success in school and life, they are different. The distinguishing characteristic between the programs is that the Early Head Start program promotes the physical, cognitive, social, and emotional development of infants and toddlers through safe and developmentally enriching caregiving.
Following in the footsteps of the Head Start model, the Early Head Start programs support parents, both mothers, and fathers, in their roles as primary caregivers and child's first teachers. The Programs motivates families to meet their personal goals and achieve self-sufficiency across a variety of domains such as housing stability, continuing education, and financial security.
Early Head Start Programs also mobilize the local community to provide the resources and environment necessary to ensure a comprehensive, integrated array of services and support for children and families.
To learn more about AVANCE Early Head Start services available in the Rio Grande Valley visit www.avance.org/headstart.
Fatherhood Programs - Fathers in Action
Effective fathering plays a vital role in children’s long-term academic development as well as their cognitive, mental and social wellbeing. In fact, children who have active fathers are more comfortable exploring their environment and more likely to show self-control and pro-social behavior. Our Fatherhood program offers a series of workshops, field trips, and activities to help fathers experience the joy of being an active partner in raising their children.
The program fills the father's toolbox with the right tools, so he grows as his role expands with his child’s education. This healthy involvement and interaction with his child aim to enhance the child's overall health and well-being. In this workshop, a father learns how to nurture and bond with his child, love and respect his child’s mother,and serve as a guide and positive role model. When positive family interactions are paired with nurturing environments, children blossom.
The AVANCE Fatherhood Program:
- Enables fathers to become involved and loving dads
- Enhances family unity
- Increases fathers’ roles in their children’s education
- Improves interpersonal relationships among couples
Career Readiness & Workforce Pathways (CRWP)
In order to address the many needs of our families, it truly takes a multitude of AVANCE staff and outside organizations working together with resources, passion, and a lot of TLC to make a change in any one individual’s life. However, the effort is transformative - not only in the lives of those we are serving but also in the lives of their children and generations of children to come.
The goal of CRWP is to transition parents from government support (welfare) to work.
- Phase 1-Career Orientation: Workforce skills readiness using AVANCE’s Career Readiness curriculum.
- Phase 2-Contextualization: Curriculum on GED/High School recovery/AA/BA education and soft skills training around career readiness, personal skills, budgeting, etc. AVANCE will help cover testing fees and other GED attainment costs when necessary.
- Phase 3-Case Management: AVANCE’s Career Navigator (CN) will provide wrap-around case management, mentoring and brokering on behalf of parents to connect them with community partners, such as Alamo Colleges, Family Service, Workforce Solutions, Goodwill, and San Antonio Food Bank - Job Readiness Program. Parents will be co-enrolled with our partners, where appropriate.
- Phase 4-Financial Supports: AVANCE’s CN will provide funding or resources for parents to overcome barriers such as course fees and materials, uniforms, transportation, etc. AVANCE also provides financial literacy training to parents in need of it.
Parents attending CRWP classes will have access to high quality (TRS & NAEYC accredited), early childhood education and care at AVANCE’s licensed child development centers.
Family, Friends, and Neighbors
The AVANCE Family, Friends, and Neighbors (FF&N) Course was originally developed for AVANCE's Parent Alumni, providing a pathway to a critical workforce opportunities - by 1) entering the workforce as a child care provider, and 2) giving other parents the security of existing quality child care options to continue their studies and work. Over the years, the need for AVANCE’s FF&N program has only increased, as quality child care has been shown as an integral lever to improve early childhood education, and as many low and middle income families must opt out of the workforce without quality child care options.
AVANCE’s FF&N Program provides home-based childcare providers with training and support to ensure they are following licensing standards, they have appropriate policies and processes in place, and that they are implementing best practices in child development and early childhood learning. The goals of our FF&N Program are:
- increase workforce opportunities and economic stability for AVANCE parents, and
- increase access to quality child care in AVANCE communities.