PALMETTO -- They are often single parents, didn’t finish high school, have two or three children under the age of 3, and want a better life for them.
That is the target audience of a new program model involving lower income Hispanic parents in Manatee County at the Family Partnership Center, which received a $50,000 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to implement the project.
David Potter, executive director for the FPC at 918 14th St. W., said the grant complements the non-profit agency’s mission, which serves nearly 1,100 families in DeSoto and Sarasota counties as well as Manatee.
Fifty-five percent of its client parents are low-income Hispanics.
“They saw we were an established supporter of the Hispanic community,” Potter said. “They thought their program model, which has been in effect for 30 years in Texas, would really fit here.
“This will enable these families to be more enriched, more empowered, more able to be self-sufficient and contribute to the community.”
The grant is being administered by AVANCE Inc., of San Antonio, Texas, which operates one of the oldest and largest parent and early childhood education programs in the U.S.
It promotes community development, positive parenting skills and behaviors, school readiness, parental school involvement, adult education and civic engagement.
The program begins in August and runs through the school year.
Magda Santos is the project manager for AVANCE -- Spanish for “advance” -- and said it was a natural with Florida’s growing Hispanic population.
n In 1980, 8.8% of state’s population was Hispanic.
n In 2010, it was almost 21.5%.
“There is a need here,” Santos said. “There is also a support network, established services with community backing, and this will allow (FPC) to enhance their current programs.”
The program model’s goal is to affect as many as 100 families annually once the program is fully operational, which usually takes 3-5 years.
Parenting education programs are delivered by bilingual, trained and experienced parenting educators in homes, support groups and workshops.
“Our focus is on the parents, always their children’s first teachers,” Potter said. “To the extent we enhance the skills of the parents, the children are the beneficiaries.”
Vin Mannix, local columnist, can be reached at 745-7055.
What: AVANCE Parent-Child Education ProgramWhen: 10:30 a.m. todayWhere: The Full Service Center at Tillman Elementary School, 2715 16th Ave. E., Palmetto.Information: Call (941) 756-3007