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First 5 LA and Abriendo Puertas Launch New Strategic Partnership to Strengthen Early Care and Education for Latino Families in L.A. County

LOS ANGELES-- Today, First 5 LA launched a new strategic partnership with Abriendo Puertas/Opening Doorsan evidence-based program that supports parents as their child's first teacher.

Abriendo Puertas, which translates to "Opening Doors," is the nation's first evidence-based comprehensive training program developed and designed by, and for, Latino parents with children ages 0-5. The program strives to improve the lives of Latino children across several outcome areas, including: education, health, and social and emotional well-being. The goal of the program is to significantly increase the number of Latino children in the U.S. that succeed.

In Los Angeles County, Latinos represent a significant population – two out of three children under the age of 5 are Latino, yet they face tremendous socio-economic disparities, which can negatively influence their families' livelihoods.

"We know children thrive when they have strong families and caregivers providing nurturing, responsive and stable learning environments" -Kim Belshé

"We know children thrive when they have strong families and caregivers providing nurturing, responsive and stable learning environments," said Kim Belshé, Executive Director of First 5 LA, a leading early childhood advocacy and public grantmaking organization. "This partnership between First 5 LA and Abriendo Puertas is another critical step forward in our ongoing efforts to strengthen the systems and supports for early care and education for the families of Los Angeles County."

Parent input informs the Abriendo Puertas curriculum, which uses a popular education approach to engage parents in lessons that reflect the culture of the target audience. The program draws from real-life experiences, incorporates data about local schools and communities, and focuses on helping Latino parents understand their important role in their child's development and their long-term impact on their child's educational outcomes.

"In California, children too often arrive at school unprepared for the challenges that await them. Achievement gaps — especially for children from low-income communities — can develop well before they enter kindergarten and increase over time," said Sandra Gutierrez, Founder and National Director of Abriendo Puertas/Opening Doors. "We honor and support parents. They are in an unparalleled position to make a huge difference in their child's early development through small things they can do every day, like talking, reading and singing with them, but parents need to know what works — and also, be informed about their rights and responsibilities."

Evidence shows the Abriendo Puertas program having a significant impact on parental involvement in early education. An independent study found that program participants were more likely to read to their children at home and were better able to identify quality child care — both critical to helping children achieve.

"With its unique training model and curriculum, Abriendo Puertas is contributing to a strong national momentum around culturally and linguistically responsive parent engagement efforts for Latino and other communities," said Barbara Andrade DuBransky, First 5 LA's Director of Family Supports. "Abriendo Puertas is a unique program that creates lasting, sustainable impact. It 'trains the trainers' and brings the benefits to scale because each successive cohort of children served by a teacher trained by Abriendo Puertas continues to reap the benefits."

First 5 LA's strategic partnership with Abriendo Puertas aims to build local provider capacity and prepare families to engage with the K-12 system, provide opportunities to conduct pilot testing of evidence-based parent engagement programs in diverse communities throughout Los Angeles County, and support more families accessing this high quality program.

This partnership is part of a larger capacity building initiative supported by multiple funders, including the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Heising-Simons Foundation and the Bezos Family Foundation. The goals of the strategic partnership directly align with several of First 5 LA's investment areas, such as further developing the knowledge and skills of capacity builders providing services to parents and children, increased community capacity building, and research and development.

The initial 18-month contract is the first of three phases identified to ultimately implement Abriendo Puertas/Opening Doors in 20 schools and other locations by 2020. During this initial phase, the focus will be on learning and researching in order to understand provider capacity and identify program implementation and best practices. More details are available here.

ABOUT ABRIENDO PUERTAS/OPENING DOORS

Abriendo Puertas / Opening Doors is the nation's first evidence-based comprehensive training program developed by and for Latino parents with children ages 0-5. Since Abriendo Puertas began in 2007, they have trained over 1,500 facilitators in more than 400 family-serving organizations and has provided its curriculum to over 80,000 parents and families in more than 300 cities across the country. The 10-session curriculum teaches goal-setting, positive discipline, and health and wellness — directed at improving parents' ability to support their children's early development. The train-the-trainer model increases parents' self-confidence, parenting skills and capacity for advocacy on behalf of their families. The train-the–facilitator model helps local family service providers improve their outreach and interaction with families, and create a sustainable program that reaches beyond the initial training sessions.

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