How can we better serve our families in the community with infants and toddlers? How can we serve families who are unable to make it to existing services in schools or community centers? One of Latino Network’s newest programs began with that question in 2014, posed to a group of community members and nonprofit staff. Creciendo Juntos (Spanish for Growing Together) serves families with children ages birth to three through home visits and small group parent-child development classes.
Though many early childhood programs exist, including our own Juntos Aprendemos, this program fills a gap in ensuring that families are able to receive one-on-one assistance in their own home on a regular basis, from a community member who speaks the same language. The program focuses on very young children.
The program trains community members as community education workers, drawing on the principles of community health workers, to be able to deliver developmentally appropriate early childhood lessons for parents and young children. They also offer 10-week series of classes for parents to attend with their infant or toddler to learn more about child development.
In the past year, Creciendo Juntos staff have helped families facing housing instability due to rising rents, connecting them with services for rent or housing assistance. Staff screen toddlers for developmental delays, and can help parents connect with services if a child is in need of additional health or educational help. And staff listen to the concerns of the parent and help them navigate issues as they arise.
The Community Education Worker (CEW) program – Latino Network calls its program by Creciendo Juntos - was launched as a partnership among culturally specific nonprofits in Portland, in collaboration with the Community Capacitation Center. The program has been funded by the state through the Early Learning Multnomah hub.
Currently, Latino Network, the Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA), Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization (IRCO), and the Urban League provide services to families in their respective communities of color. Together, our programs serve families who speak 13 different languages at home! The three most common languages spoken are English, Spanish, and Somali.
Together, we served 175 families in 2016 with more than 1,100 home visits! Around 60% of these families report having an income of less than $25,000.