A Letter to Dad

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AVANCE FATHERS IN ACTION

DEAR Dad,

Being a parent is one of life’s most precious gifts and greatest challenges. Through your children, both your strengths and faults are projected back at you, forcing daily self-reflection and giving you the opportunity each day to fulfill your greatest role. We often get distracted by work, finances, relationships, and daily struggles, but remember, we don’t have to do this on our own.

From the sweet and funny, to the sometimes surprising words coming out of our kid’s mouths, we realize how important we are to who they will one day become. Time with them is short. They seem to get bigger after every nap, and though we can’t stop their growing, we can do our best to take advantage of each precious moment we have with them. No matter our level of income or education, we all want the same thing — to give our kids more opportunities and a better life than we have. We all do the best we can to be positive examples in their lives, but, as the saying goes, it takes a village.

Today in our communities, we have so many opportunities to come together to share our knowledge and learn from others. To start off the new year, parents can take advantage of a resource provided by AVANCE, a national nonprofit with a community-based approach, which is bringing its new Fathers in Action, or Padres Actívos program to the RGV for its second session since kicking off the program last fall. Fathers in Action serves dads with young children from birth to age 5 as a free resource to enhance their understanding of their child’s needs and how to meet them, while also providing job skills and support for a brighter future.

AVANCE has been in the Valley for 27 years and has grown nationwide, delivering innovative family education and support services in both English and Spanish. With programs like Early Head Start along with the new Fathers in Action, the nonprofit strives to encourage early childhood development with family engagement, and ultimately aims to break through the bonds of poverty. Research tells us that children are significantly more successful when fathers are a part of their lives. Through their programs in the community, AVANCE aims to directly impact children while also enabling parents to achieve their own educational and professional goals.

According to parent educator Francesca Brown, AVANCE is currently registering participants for the session starting mid-January.

“We want to encourage any father who wants to improve the bond with their child,” she said. “They don’t just get the courses and certificate; they receive all this individualized support from resources throughout the community. We don’t do this on our own.”

The new program is funded through a grant awarded to AVANCE by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families. The nonprofit organization will receive $1.3 million per year for five years to facilitate the program starting right here in the RGV as well as in Houston. The goal is to start by reaching 100 fathers and to continue to grow, promoting responsible fatherhood and economic stability.

Registration for the free program is open now for any fathers of young children or soon-to-be fathers. Participants can expect eight weekly sessions with child care and a meal included. For convenience, sessions will likely be scheduled in the evenings, but consideration will be given based on the availability of participants to accommodate working fathers and busy schedules. Highlights of the sessions include topics covering child development, employment and financial literacy, child support services, communication, discipline, and activities to do with children. Transportation is also available as needed.

Dad, you are fundamental to your child’s success. They want to be just like you.

If you feel like any one of these topics could benefit your family, call AVANCE at (956) 354-2130 or visit www.avance. org/RGV for more information.