Pilot Program: Parental Involvement and Student Achievement

 

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Hollywood, FL, April 30, 2015 – Recognizing the important and crucial role parents play in a child’s success in school, Hispanic Unity of Florida (HUF), a nonprofit devoted to helping children and families become self-sufficient and lead productive lives, has launched a pilot Family Strengthening program to assist parents improve their parenting skills.

The Family Strengthening Program (FSP) is an evidence-based family strengthening and training program, to empower families to develop and practice positive discipline techniques with their children. The FSP will enhance the parent’s knowledge, skills and confidence as parents. As a result, children also will be empowered and will significantly reduce problem behaviors as well as improve social competencies and school performance.

And children in Broward County need that assistance. During the 2011-2012 school year alone,
12,965 middle school students enrolled in the Broward County school system were suspended and many of these students re-offended, according to Broward County Public Schools. And the problems can escalate to include abuse and neglect. In 2011-2012 (the most recent data available to HUF) the Broward Sheriff’s Office investigated 14,554 intake referrals from the Florida Abuse Hotline.

A meta study by Harvard University’s Department of Education confirms that “the academic achievement score distribution or range of scores for children whose parents were highly involved in their education was substantially higher than that of their counterparts whose parents were less involved.”

And, according to a recent report by the Alliance for Early Success and Child Trends, academic success and developmental transitions are best supported by parental involvement that extends beyond the classroom. For culturally diverse families, this is particularly true as socioeconomic influences, language barriers, and other factors such as the mismatching of clients to programs can impact a family’s perceived benefits.

This newly established Family Strengthening Pilot Program aims to encourage and nurture parent-child engagement both inside and outside the home, while increasing academic and social skills for success for their children.

“Serving more than 17,000 clients annually that hail from more than 25 different countries, we understand that there is no ‘one-size fits all’ approach,” said Felipe Pinzon, Vice President of Programs for HUF. “We designed this program understanding the different needs of our community members, so we could reinforce positive behaviors and better equip parents with the skills needed to strengthen their family relationships.”

Mr. Pinzon believes “parents play a significant – and major role – in their child’s success in school. And we have found that if we can work with both the parent to strengthen them and their relationship with the child, while also working with the child separately, we can effect significant positive changes in the family and improve the chances for success for the child.”

In 2015, Hispanic Unity plans to serve more than 100 parents and their children through three cycles of 10 week family training and case management sessions. One of the cycles will be conducted for Hispanic Unity clients. HUF also has partnered with two elementary schools, West Hollywood Elementary and Gulfstream Elementary School, where two other cycles will take place.

Participants, who recently were graduated from the first cycle at West Hollywood Elementary, have experienced improvements in their family interactions:

“This program helped me to understand my child”- Mother, participated in first cycle of the Family Strengthening Program

“This program taught me about respect”- Daughter, participated in first cycle of the Family Strengthening Program.

The pilot program was made possible with support from the following partners and funders: A.D. Henderson Foundation, Sandy and Kenny Tate, Albert and Beatriz Miniaci, Regions Bank and the Harold Rosenberg Fund at the Community Foundation of Broward County.

Anyone interested in supporting this program is encouraged to contact Josie Bacallao, HUF President and CEO, atjbacallao@hispanicunity.org or at 954-683-2028.
About Hispanic Unity of Florida (HUF):
Hispanic Unity was founded 33 years ago by community leaders to ease the acculturation transition for newcomers from other nations. Today this nonprofit provides assistance through 19 programs and 30 + services, in three languages, to Broward’s diverse community. Hispanic Unity remains the county’s largest agency dedicated to the immigrant population, providing them with the tools they need to build a new life. In 2014, the agency served 17,000+ clients, from toddlers to adults. The agency offers assistance at eight Broward County sites in addition to 15 FREE Tax Preparation sites and 9 Citizenship Preparation sites.

Its mission is: Empowering Hispanics and other members of the community to become self-sufficient civically engaged and to lead productive lives. For more information visit: www.hispanicunity.org or call 954-964-8884 ext. 216.

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