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At Region 9 Head Start Association, it is our objective to create a training program with a series of live and pre-recorded training sessions virtually. Our aim is to prepare learning adults that care for the Spanish-speaking population, which would include home visitors and family child care partnership staff. This series of training sessions will be free of cost to member organizations to benefit the growing Spanish-speaking staff members Head Start program serves. To best equip Head Start’s Spanish-speaking staff, professional training development should be offered in their native language.

A recent study found that non-native English speakers take longer to understand curricula compared to native English-speakers. Trainers for classes had to present their content more slowly to ensure comprehension, answer questions and repeat information for non-native English speakers which increased delivery time (Casey 2017). Providing training for non-native English speakers in their preferred language may decrease delivery time as well ensure that content and skills are fully understood to improve effectiveness for their roles. The Office of Head Start is made up of 35,000 staff who speak two or more languages. Of these staff members around 25.81% of them spoke in Spanish. This inherently results in staff members’ ability to serve Dual language learners (DLLs), children who are learning two or more languages at the same time. This allows for effective communication in children’s native languages, contributes to cognitive development, social integration, and academic success. As of 2022-23, around 21.35% of children/pregnant people enrolled in Head Start programs spoke primarily in Spanish, which is a growing population within our programs.

In 2021, the U.S. Latino population reached 62.5 million which makes up 19% of the national population and is projected to increase over the years (Zong 2022). Region 9 Head Start Association collaborates with the four state organizations with the common goal of elevating the Head Start Community. Within these states there has been an exponential growth of the Latino Population, within the span of twenty years: Arizona (84%), California (41%), Nevada (148%) and Hawaii (84%) (Zong 2022). As the population continues to grow, the needs of this particular group must be addressed.

To efficiently continue to support multilingual communities across Head Start programs, Region 9 Head Start Association believes that agency staff, including home visitors and family child care partnerships staff, should be provided professional development in their preferred native language. Doing so would effectively foster inclusivity of the diverse population, ensure thorough comprehension of professional development topics, and as a result promote upward mobility for this population.

If you or someone you know is familiar with other Spanish Professional Development Courses, please fill out this survey.

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Questions? Contact us at headstartr9@region9hsa.org.