The Family Advocate
has a primary role on the interdisciplinary team for engaging and involving families of children in the Child Care Centers through activities, practices and services that support parents as the primary nurturers, experts and teachers of their child in order to promote and sustain their child’s learning, development, academic and life success. The Family Advocate has a specific and intentional role in the following three areas of work with families
- Activities/strategies that promote and enhance the parent-child relationship.
- Activities/strategies that engage parents in discussions about their child’s growth and development and provide parents information and opportunities to learn about concrete things they can do to promote their child’s learning.
- Activities/strategies that encourage parents’ involvement in the education of their child and in their child’s early learning center. This includes helping parents recognize and expect “quality education;” know how to access quality preschools; and learn how to advocate for a quality education for their child.
The primary focus for the work of the Family Advocate is the parent/child relationship and to engage around that relationship at every opportunity with parents, and with other members of the interdisciplinary team.
ESSENTIAL SKILLS AND ABILITIES:
- Ensures that all areas of ERSEA are complete, well documented and accurate
- Develop and sustain collaborative relationships with an assigned caseload of families and serve as their primary point of contact on behalf of their child’s and their own involvement in the child’s development. Utilize all informal and formal opportunities to build and maintain the relationships.
- Collaborate with the interdisciplinary team and Mental Health Counselors to promote families’ understanding and management of their child’s behaviors, including positive approaches to discipline, as well as management of their own emotional responses.
- Lead work with families to identify child and family strengths and areas of need, i.e., the Needs Assessment and Family Partnership Agreement process.
- Access and disseminate resources for families that pertain to children’s healthy growth and development.
- Contribute to the planning and facilitation of parent education activities that focus on child development and support of classroom learning activities.
- Implement protocols to follow up on absenteeism (including excessive tardiness) in order to identify and address barriers to children’s regular attendance.
- Support and assist families in addressing their own emotional, physical, educational, and employment needs in order to support their child’s development.
- Ensure that families are up-to-date on immunization, dental and health information.
- Participate in the recruitment, enrollment, and orientation of families entering Early Head Start.
- Interprets and explains the dual eligibility required for the EHS partnership program to parents during recruitment, enrollment, & shared governance platforms
- Develop strategies with families that help them appreciate and contribute to the educational activities of the program and successfully use their own voices to advocate on behalf of their children and themselves. Promote parents’ overall participation in program governance.
- In collaboration with the PFCE Specialist and the Child Care Center Director, facilitate Parent Committee meetings by empowering parents to leadership.
- Provide parents of children who have disabilities and/or behavioral concerns with information about special education procedural safeguards and due process rights.
- Mentor parents of children who have disabilities and/or behavioral concerns in building relationships and developing effective communication skills with Early Steps.
- Lead the internal planning and subsequent involvement of parents in all of their children’s program transitions, i.e., into the program and from EHS to HS.
- Develop working relationships with other Head Start programs and/or preschool programs locally to help coordinate the successful transition of children and families from EHS to Preschool.
- Support families to initiate and maintain eligibility for childcare subsidies and/or private pay agreements.
- Observe and participate in the classroom, as a strategy for supporting the goals of Family Support, as well as to support colleagues on the interdisciplinary team.
- Participate in staff meetings, trainings, Family Child Reviews, case consultations and other collaborative planning meetings.
- Collaborate with teaching staff to conduct home visits, parent-staff conferences, and classroom parent meetings.
- Collaborate with the Program’s interdisciplinary team to plan, coordinate, facilitate and market parent activities and services.
- Maintain accurate records/files and document services, including entries into the agency’s management information system/ChildPlus.
- Participate in the program’s self-evaluation and continuous improvement processes, and ensure compliance with Head Start Performance Standards.
- Support and promote the agency’s mission and values.
- Make referrals and links children and families to needed community services; follow-up on referrals made and outcomes to help ensure family’s needs are met.
- Cultivate relationships with appropriate and effective referral agencies and individuals to enable referrals for families to receive needed services not provided by the program.
- Perform other duties as assigned, within the scope of the job description.
EDUCATIONAL REQUIREMENTS & EXPERIENCES:
- Ability to establish supportive, positive relationships with children and families from diverse backgrounds, including those living in poverty; understanding of the important role staff play as ‘change agents’ to promote and enhance the parent-child relationship
- Cultural sensitivity and competency in all interactions with both families and colleagues
- Demonstrated sense of responsibility, through good attendance, effective time management, dependability, accountability, and maintenance of strong ethical standards
- Ability to utilize and participate in Reflective Practice and Supervision
- Flexibility regarding the location and schedule of family support activities, being willing to work in community settings as well as home environments, and on during evenings and weekends, as the needs of the service population requires
- Knowledge of Head Start Performance Standards
- Demonstrated desire to learn and keep current with new and best practices in the field, including child development and family systems/dynamics
- Ability to work within an interdisciplinary team as a cooperative and supportive team member
- Knowledge of state-specific regulations, such as the Child Care Assistance Program and TANF, and the role and responsibility of a Mandated Reporter
- Knowledge of and ability to utilize interpersonal skills such as conflict resolution and/or mediation, and group facilitation
- Good written and verbal communication skills
- Intermediate computer skills, including word-processing software, and the ability to learn and master other computer technology /software programs as needed.
- Ability to manually operate a computer and other office/ equipment
- Ability to travel within the community, e.g., to conduct home visits and collaborate with community agencies, which may require climbing stairs
- Bachelor’s degree in Social Work or related field
- Minimum of two years of experience working with families in a community-based Head Start and/or other family support/family-centered program