Sometimes even preschool is too late to effectively intervene and boost the achievement levels of low-income Latino children.
But home visiting programs bring school into the home, and help parents become their child’s first teacher. A recent report by the Latino Policy Forum, “Primeros Pasos,” shows how such programs are making a positive difference in Illinois.
The programs are characterized by their work to improve parenting practices as well as parents’ awareness of their child’s development. They also operate as an early alert system of sorts to identify any developmental or health challenges. They also may prevent child abuse and set children on track toward greater success in school.
“Home visiting programs are generally targeted toward those families who are most at risk for adverse outcomes, like teen parents. And home visiting can begin prenatally to coach and equip young parents in how to support their child’s health development,” the report’s author, Jacob Vigil, told WTTW’s Chicago Tonight.
The study also suggests that strong home visiting programs are often those that receive state funding support.
The Early Head Start home visiting program works with children under the age of three. Yuri Gutierrez has two young children in the program and told WTTW that one of the biggest things she learned was the importance of reading to them.
The Latino Policy Forum makes a number of other recommendations on how to improve early childhood learning. They include increasing the number of bilingual early learning educators and providing more training opportunities to such individuals.
They also recommend improving awareness among Latino parents about the importance of early learning and parent involvement. In addition, they encourage the collection of data on infants and toddlers and the service providers that work with such children.
Even the report focuses on Illinois, it is worth a read and could easily be applied to the rest of the nation.