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Poverty & Equity Thought Leadership

Sparking Learning. Strengthening Families

“During the pandemic, we would have really been struggling if it weren’t for Families First. They were getting us food and supplies, and even when there was a toilet paper shortage, they were getting us toilet paper. Everything in general they’ve helped us a lot,” shared Victoria Talavera, CHISPA parent.

In Spanish, “CHISPA” means “spark.” CHISPA, specifically for the Spanish-speaking community in Gwinnett County, focuses on the early education of children, ages 0-5 years old. Our bilingual parent educators visit parents and children in their homes and provide parent leadership training as well as school transition and literacy activities.

Since August 2009, our Early Learning programs use the Parents as Teachers (PAT) method which utilizes an evidence-based early home visitation program to optimize early development, learning, and health of children by supporting and engaging parents and caregivers. It ensures parents with children ages 0-5 take an active role early on through parent-child interaction, development-centered parenting, and family well-being. PAT programs also offer personal home visits, health screenings, community connections, and play-and-learns with other children.

“Throughout COVID, our CHISPA families have needed us more than ever before as they tackled virtual learning, limited access to vital resources and the overall uncertainty that came with the pandemic,” said Troya Jackson, CHISPA Program Manager. “Our team became even more of a safety net for these families to ensure that the children continued to learn during these challenging times.” 

Our team connects with families from school, church and health services referrals. During COVID many of these exchanges were virtual or outside in public spaces. The team continued to find creative ways for  

one-on-one, hour-long parent-child sessions that focus on recognizing letters, colors and shapes. The older kids work on other skills including reading and writing. A key component is the activity books the families can take home and work on together. 

“We provide access and education on the tools, resources and support for families to be the first teachers at home,” said Soledad Ruiz, CHISPA Program Coordinator. “Even during COVID, we were able to get our families ready for their children to start school and encourage them to become leaders in their homes and communities.”

The CHISPA team also helps the families celebrate their cultural heritage with their children. Recently, the CHISPA families gathered to celebrate International Day of the Child as well as Hispanic Heritage Month. Everyone enjoyed sampling special recipes from the Hispanic countries represented by our families. Through Chispa, we not only focus on early education for children and their families, but also celebrate their amazing cultures and Hispanic heritage.

CHISPA IMPACT  

July 2020 – June 2021

  • 90% of parents increased their positive parenting skills and quality parent-child interactions. 
  • 92.5% of parents increased their knowledge of healthy, age-appropriate child development.

 

CHISPA SUCCESS STORY 

A.G. and his mom have been part of CHISPA for the past two years, since he was turning three years old. During initial observations and assessments, our parent educator detected a delay in A.G.’s communication skills and referred his mom to Georgia’s Babies Can’t Wait Program, which helps families and special needs children from 0-3 years of age. Once he was evaluated and started receiving services, A.G. began using simple words. Our parent educator and his mom worked on his vocabulary during Play & Learn sessions and home visits. Once he aged out of the Babies Can’t Wait program, A.G. was referred to the Gwinnett County Public Schools Special Education Services. Through these services and CHISPA, A.G.’s vocabulary has increased, and he can communicate with sign language and words. AG and his mom are one of the many families Soledad and her team are helping with early intervention and child development. A.G’s mom shares how thankful she is for CHISPA and how quickly her son got the support he needed to begin to thrive.

 

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