Guest Post: Family Engagement in Action
Sofia Baucom is the Family Services Manager at East Coast Migrant Head Start Project, a migrant and seasonal Head Start grantee committed to excellence in serving children and families in their areas of need from a family-centered approach. Sofia’s been with ECMHSP since 2002 and started her role as Family Services Manager in 2006. She has extensive experience working with special populations across the Americas.
The foundation of our program services are the parents and guardians of the children enrolled in our Head Start centers. For this reason, we always stand ready to support their engagement in our program.
In 2019, an opportunity to engage with our families came when the National Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Collaboration Office in Washington, D.C., requested applications from grantees to participate in a pilot project to jumpstart a Promotores de Bienestar program. The role of a Promotora de Bienestar is to empower parents by promoting their mental health and well-being. For this effort, a team of experienced Head Start professionals in the Raleigh office partnered with our mission-driven South Carolina Direct Services staff members.
We created a small cohort of parents and staff at the Colleton County Center in South Carolina that wanted to serve as Promotores de Bienestar. During a three-day training provided by MHP Salud and the National Latino Behavioral Health Association, seven parent volunteers started to learn their role. We viewed this pilot project as a tool to build leadership skills for selected parents and staff – skills that will benefit them individually and the communities in which they live. Therefore, to strengthen even more their commitment, we developed four parent training modules on the following topics:
What is Mental Health and Mental Wellness
Promoting Mental Wellness
Signs of Depression and Risk Factors
Signs of Anxiety Disorders and Risk Factors
ECMHSP believes in the effectiveness of this model, the benefits for parents, staff and communities through leadership development and enhanced health outcomes. The topics in these modules directly address the need for children and families to be healthy and prepared to learn. In addition, they include objectives that support educating and empowering parents in their knowledge of overall wellness. ECMHSP recognizes that high-quality parent education, supportive peer influence, and utilization of strong networks of community partnerships will provide the best services to families and further the mission of our program. We planted the seed in 2019, and in 2020 will continue to nurture the growth of this project by supporting their role as Promotores de Bienestar.
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