Dropout Prevention with Latino Families The Juntos Program
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Attendees will learn about the educational challenges and opportunities of Latino youth. They will be introduced to the program Juntos para una Mejor Educación/Together for a Better Education: an experiential program that provides Latino parents and youth with knowledge and resources to prevent students from dropping out and to encourage families to work together to gain access to postsecondary education. This workshop will share the free curriculum with participants and allow them to experience the research and some of the activities that make Juntos Program effective. The educational challenges of Latino youth are popularly associated with language and cultural differences while research has shown that there are many other factors involved. The Juntos Program was created three years ago to address the educational challenges of Latino youth while providing Latino parents and youth in the 8th through 12th grades with knowledge and resources to prevent students from dropping out and to encourage families to work together to gain access to postsecondary education. The program brings together families with partners from schools, local community agencies, college-age mentors, and Cooperative Extension staff to make graduation a reality. Juntos also uses success coaches and college-age mentors to provide weekly afterschool clubs and activities with the target students before and after the 6-week program. The 2-hour workshops meet once a week for six weeks and focus on experiential activities that help the parents and youth work towards their educational goals. Weekly topics covered are: making education a family goal, communicating with teachers and guidance counselors, knowing how to succeed in the current school system, financing college and money matters, getting ready for the college application process, and being an advocate for your teen. The program has been held in 30 schools around North Carolina and is being piloted in ten schools in Nevada. Juntos has served over 700 Latino parents and youth and pre- and post-test evaluation data from Latino youth and parents that have completed the program showed significant increases in learning, attitudes, and skills gained. Results from these evaluations using a Wilcoxon sign test have revealed significant mean differences from pre- to post-tests. Parents and youth reported an increased understanding of NC graduation requirements, classes needed, higher education options, financial aid options, and necessary tests. Parents report a significant increase in their monitoring their child’s homework, meeting with school staff, and increased skills and knowledge about the college application process. Youth reported significant increase in their planning for after high school and sharing those goals with their parents. In addition to statistics, 92% of parents increased confidence in working with their child’s school and 93% of parents reported that they felt they had the information they needed to help their teenager successfully complete high school. In addition, 72% of participants attended all of the workshop sessions, and more than 60% of the families had a father present. We will share our models for funding and expanding the outreach of this program. We also will discuss how we have incorporated 4-H and the Youth and Families with Promise (YFP) mentoring program to serve younger elementary and middle school Latino students and their families.