Inés Rodriguez joined New AP in February as the Family Empowerment Department Manager. The concept of family empowerment can mean different things to different regions of the world. At New AP, the Family Empowerment team provides early intervention, family violence prevention, and targeted women’s career development support. Together, Inés and her team are helping new Americans to thrive in school and at work, and to access vital resources to help ensure success.
“Parents as Teachers is one of our most impactful home-visiting programs due to its long-term, evidence-based model that puts child-parent interaction at the heart all wraparound services,” says Inés. Refugee parents want to lay a secure foundation for their children’s success, but sometimes need additional support, skills, and education. Through Parents as Teachers (PAT) New AP helps parents of infants, toddlers, and preschoolers understand child development, promote literacy, access early learning programs, and become effective teachers and advocates. A core principle of the program is that parents are their children’s first and most influential teachers.
Parent Educators support families in myriad ways. First, by helping children to be school ready. The specific obstacles to success refugee youth face include significant education gaps, language barriers, and limited supplemental academic support. In addition, newly arriving refugee children exhibit a strong need for focused social and behavioral support as they acclimate to the U.S. education system and culture. Not addressing these needs may leave youth and their families a short window of opportunity to obtain literacy and core skills before graduating from high school. Second, by screening children under 3 years old for any developmental delays to ensure if needed, children can be connected to the resources they need as early as possible. And finally, by screening parents for health issues that ensure their social, emotional, and physical wellbeing. Studies have shown that parents who are in ill health (physically or mentally) can negatively impact a child’s early development, learning, and health outcomes.
Mon Sunar arrived in the United States in 2011 after leaving her home in Nepal. After moving to Atlanta in 2016, she decided she wanted to start her family. As a new mom beginning her life in a new country, Mon knew how important it was to be supported in raising her children. She began working with New AP in the PAT program when her first child was just three months old. Through the program’s lessons and techniques, she felt empowered to support her baby’s early development through interactive play, singing and dancing, storytelling, reading, and talking with her child. Mon shared her gratitude for the program, saying that without PAT, it would have been very difficult to raise her children and feel confident they had access to everything they needed for early literacy and language learning.
After years of support from the PAT team, Mon’s oldest child has turned three and began preschool this year. She felt comforted by the early learning she and her toddler had accomplished together over the years, and knew her daughter’s transition to schooling was much smoother because of their work with the PAT program. Mon has continued these daily practices with their second child who is now seven months old. Not only does she look forward to continuing to learn and grow with her children in the years to come with PAT, but also wants all of her friends and family to get involved in the program because it has made such a huge impact on her confidence as a mother. The PAT team feels so rewarded when families share parenting skills they have learned through the program with others.