We have a parent in our Early Learning program who is a refugee from Afghanistan. She began her journey with us by volunteering in the classroom. As a mother, she worked with her Family Support Specialist to place her child into daycare and a part-day Head Start class. She did this so that she could have the opportunity to work.
Eventually, we hired her as a class substitute where she has worked as a long-term class aide. Since then, she has purchased her own vehicle. She wanted to be able to get to any of our six sites without worry.
The Center for American Progress states that “48% of American students attending public schools are from minority groups.” “However, only 18% of America’s teachers are diverse enough to meet the high needs reflected in students who demonstrate diversity in language and culture.” Research has also shown that teachers of color improve the academic achievements of minority students when of similar backgrounds, providing language support, and serving as a model for professional success to them and their families.
28% of our current bi-lingual staff speak 13 different languages of the families and children representative of the twelve different cultural groups in our program.
We have another refugee from Burma who had had four children go through our program in the last six years. Mom didn’t speak English when her first child started attending school. The Family Support Specialist helped mom get signed up for ESL classes on-site through Renton Technical College and eventually with citizenship classes through Neighborhood House.
She passed her test and will be participating in her Naturalization Oath ceremony next week. Excited, she invited her Family Support Specialist to attend. She supports Karen speaking families in the community and helps recruit them for our Early Learning program. Through working with her specialist in goal setting and attainment, she ie better equipped to support her family and children as they transition through the K-12 school system.
-Kent Youth and Family Services