Santa Rosa, CA – May 6, 2015 –
On Saturday, May 2, more than 100 low-income, mostly Spanish-speaking Latino parents visited Sonoma State University (SSU) to learn how they can make attending college possible for their children and themselves. The parents and their 125 children are part of the AVANCE Parent-Child Education Program. Ten classes of families participate in the nine-month-long program, where a key message is "graduating from college begins at birth." First 5 Sonoma County has funded AVANCE since 2010.
"The future of our county-our workforce, our quality of life, is dependent on the educational attainment of Latino children. We owe it to our children to give them the future they deserve by investing in programs like AVANCE. Eighty percent of children's brain development occurs in the first three years of life, so the return on investment in parent-child early education programs is significant and cannot be delayed. That investment must begin at birth and at home-in every home," stated Alfredo Perez, First 5 Executive Director.
The tour, made possible with funding by Sonoma Wine Country Weekend, began with a presentation by SSU Enrollment Director Gustavo Flores. He told parents how they can prepare their children for college, including how to access financial aid. A bilingual student panel followed, sharing personal stories of how they overcame obstacles on their own paths as first-generation college students. The students offered plenty of advice to the pre-K-12 students in the audience as well as their parents. The students then led the participants on a tour of the campus. The day ended with a real-life college experience-eating lunch in The Kitchens, the student dining facility inside the Student Center.
"Since I started AVANCE, I tell my son [2.5 years old] he will go to university. He didn't understand. Now he says, 'AVANCE is my little school, this [SSU] is my big school.' He was in love with the trees, all the little [dormitory] rooms, and the pizza!" said Itzel Gudino de Avila of Santa Rosa.
For forty years AVANCE National, headquartered in San Antonio, has administered the two-generation Parent-Child Education program that focuses on "the parent as the first teacher and the home as the first classroom." The curriculum, consisting of toy making, child development, community resources, and home visiting, is delivered to parents or other caregivers and their children ages birth to three. AVANCE's two-generation approach has empowered low-income Latino parents to break free of poverty and to pave the way to a brighter
future for themselves and their children.
First 5 Sonoma County adopted the AVANCE program as one of the evidence-based programs included in its 10-year strategic plan. Locally the program is delivered by Community Action Partnership of Sonoma County, Petaluma Adult School, and the Sonoma Valley Education Foundation. Since fall 2010, 800 Sonoma County families have participated in AVANCE, and First 5 has invested $2.2 million. First 5's AVANCE commitment for fiscal years 2015-18 is $1.44 million.
First 5 Sonoma County Commission
was established through the California Children and Families First Act of 1998 and directed to promote, support, and improve the early development of children from the prenatal stage through five years of age. The Act established a tobacco tax which funds the work of this Commission.