United Way of Central Jersey, through an extensive array of direct services and supplemental program financial support to our nonprofit community partners, has prioritized the provision of early childhood services promoting success in school and in later life. Given what we know about brain development prenatally and through the first few years of life, we have created an evidence based "stack" of intensive early childhood programs which among others services include the Nurse Family Partnership (NFP), the Parent Child Home Program (PCHP) and Abriendo Puertas, each of which serves a predominantly Latino population. Through this initiative we propose to bring to scale our Abriendo Puertas component of the continuum enabling us through our county wide non-profit and faith based partners to reach an approximate 150 families (in groups of 15) with children (age 0-6). The ten session program curriculum, which includes focus upon parenting education and parental empowerment, also offers content on strengthening parental capacity to strongly advocate for their children in the community and especially in pre-school and kindergarten classrooms.
In order to increase impact, many parents participating in the program are encouraged and trained to serve as co-leaders thus enabling more widespread reach.
Notwithstanding the extraordinary success of the Abriendo Puertas program on a micro family by family basis, it is clear that a more expansive macro approach is warranted. The United Way of Central Jersey is uniquely positioned to serve as a convener, bringing together health, education, social services and other stakeholders from multi-levels of government, from the non-profit sector, from the faith based community as well from the business sector. We anticipate that the formation of a "Champions for Children" Advisory Board will serve to advocate for Abriendo Puertas and other services tailored to meet the needs of our Latino residents enabling them to secure a better life for themselves, for their families and for their children. .