Doña Ana County



The Doña Ana County Health and Human Services Department will host a graduation celebration Saturday, May 31, for 34 parents and 40 children who have completed a nine-month community-based curriculum titled AVANCE, which is designed to help families with young children break the cycle of poverty through a program combining early childhood development, parenting, adult literacy and healthy marriage classes.

The graduation ceremonies will begin at 10 a.m. at Chaparral Elementary School, 300 Lisa Dr., in Chaparral, following a meeting of the AVANCE Leadership Committee, which gets underway ay 9:30 a.m.

The word AVANCE is a Spanish word meaning “to advance” or “to progress. The program began in San Antonio, Texas, and sports 10 chapters in that state. Doña Ana County will be the first county in New Mexico to launch the program for possible statewide participation.

Guest speakers at the event will include District 2 Doña Ana County Commissioner Dolores Saldaña-Caviness and State Sen. Mary Kay Papen. Special invited guests include State Sen. Cynthia Nava, State Rep. Mary Helen Garcia, State Rep. Nathan Cote, and Doña Ana County Commissioners Karen G. Perez and Oscar Vásquez Butler.

Components of the AVANCE program include:

• Parenting Education Classes to teach parents how to be the primary teacher for their children and full partners in their education

• Community Resource Awareness to give parents the information and tools to help themselves

• Home Visits to provide one-to-one guidance on more effective parenting and home teaching skills

• Early Childhood Education to introduce children of the parents in the classes to stimulating early learning classroom environments

• Adult Education to promote economic self-sufficiency

Parents with children under the age of four and/or women who are pregnant are the AVANCE target population. Two groups of parents have now completed the 9-month curriculum in Chaparral with the help of the Doña Ana County Health and Human Services Department, the El Paso Chapter of AVANCE, and the New Mexico Center for Youth and Families Department (CYFD). Parents and their children attended weekly sessions that began last September.

For more information on the program or the graduation ceremonies, call Myrna Estebane at (575) 525-5858.

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Reporters seeking more information or interviews may call county Public Information Director Jess Williams at (575) 525-5801.