Foundation supports program to help Latino families
October 16, 2012
PASOs for Parents, an Arnold School of Public Health program to help Latino families rear healthy, happy and safe children, is the recipient of a $7,500 grant from the Hootie and the Blowfish Foundation.
PASOs for Parents is among a host of programs supported by the USC-born rock band which has been recognized for both its music and philanthropy. Established in 2000, the foundation has donated more than $1 million to altruistic efforts over the years.
Julie Smithwick, executive director of PASOs, the parent organization of PASOs for Parents, said the program, in partnership with the South Carolina Children’s Trust, was born in October 2010. It was a natural outgrowth of the original PASOs movement started seven years ago with a focus on maternal and infant health. The PASOs Program is part of the Consortium for Latino Immigration Studies.
The Blowfish Foundation funding is in addition to a recent $55,785 grant from S.C. Children’s Trust, the major benefactor of PASOs for Parents.
Smithwick said Latino families who participated in the original PASOs program developed such close bonds with her staff that “they began to come back with questions about child development.”
PASO for Parents, offered in Richland and Lexington counties, consists of five weekly orkshops in Spanish. Each session is three hours long, and childcare and refreshments are provided during the classes.
The close relationships that she and her staff have developed with Latino families help allay concerns in the community, Smithwick said. Among these are South Carolina’s tough new immigration law and the desire among parents to see their children succeed in the schools and communities where they live.
The immigration law is under review by the South Carolina court systems and civil rights organizations, but that hasn’t erased fears of racial profiling in the Latino community, said Smithwick.
The PASOs for Parents program also provides a space where Latino parents are comfortable asking questions about adjusting to life in the Midlands because they feel their culture is understood and respected. Today 160-plus families, representing some 350 children, are part of the program, she said.
The next step in the evolution of PASOs for Parents is a 2013 program to train Latino parents to mentor their peers in successful child development. The program also will focus on learning to navigate the resources available to Latinos and on providing support so families can have the tools they need in order to best support their children.