AVANCE Parent-Child Education Program (PCEP)

About This Program

Target Population: Parents/primary caregivers with children from birth to age three, pregnant women and/or partners of pregnant women, especially those with challenges such as poverty; illiteracy; teen parenthood; geographic and social marginalization; and toxic stress

For children/adolescents ages: 0 – 3

For parents/caregivers of children ages: 0 – 3

Program Overview

AVANCE's philosophy is based on the premise that education must begin in the home and that the parent is the child's first and most important teacher. The PCEP fosters parenting knowledge and skills through a nine-month, intensive bilingual parenting curriculum that aims to have a direct impact on a young child's physical, emotional, social, and cognitive development. Parents/primary caregivers are taught how to make toys out of common household materials and how to use them as tools to teach their children school readiness skills and concepts. Monthly home visits are also conducted to observe parent-child interactions and provide guidance in the home on learning through play. Along with the parenting education component, parents/primary caregivers are supported in meeting their personal growth, developmental and educational goals to foster economic stability. While parents/primary caregivers attend classes, their children under the age of three are provided with early childhood enrichment in a developmentally appropriate classroom setting which aims to build the academic, social, and physical foundation necessary for school readiness.

Program Goals

The goals of the AVANCE Parent-Child Education Program (PCEP) are:

  • Increase parents' understanding of child development so they are better able to foster optimal development of their children
  • Empower parents to view themselves as their child's first and most important teacher and the home as the first classroom

PCEP achieves these goals by targeting the following outcomes:

  • Increased school readiness in children from birth to age three
  • Increased family engagement in the development and education of young children
  • Increased civic engagement, including knowledge of how to advocate for themselves and their families
  • Increased knowledge of community resources

Logic Model

The program representative did not provide information about a Logic Model for AVANCE Parent-Child Education Program (PCEP).

Essential Components

The essential components of AVANCE Parent-Child Education Program (PCEP) include:

  • Participants:
    • Voluntary
    • Parents/primary caregivers and their children from birth to age three
    • Pregnant mothers and their partners
  • Intervention context:
    • Theoretical framework:
      • Human ecology
      • Attachment
    • Weekly three-hour small group sessions:
      • Toy-making
      • Parenting Education
      • Community Resource Speakers/Group Activities
      • Recommended adult class size: 15 to 25 participants; if more than 25 families wish to enroll in the program, recommend scheduling an additional class day to maintain the optimal group size that is conducive for learning
    • Early childhood education
      • Provided while adult participants attend weekly three-hour class
      • Size of child class depends on the age of the child and the recommended caregiver-to-child ratio for that age group
    • Monthly home visits
    • Ongoing advocacy and support
    • Additional services (optional):
      • Transportation–provided as needed to help eliminate barriers to participation in the program
      • Food services–nutritious meals for children and nutritious snacks for parents/primary caregivers during the parenting class
  • Program delivery staff:
    • Complete initial AVANCE orientation and biannual recertification training
  • Program monitoring and use of data:
    • Data collected by Parent Educators and Home Educators as directed by the AVANCE National Office and sent data to the National Office for entry and analysis
    • Reports issued to PCEP providers by AVANCE National Office issues reports and used to evaluate and guide program implementation
    • Reports used by providers to monitor, identify and improve variances, and assure fidelity to the AVANCE model
  • Partnerships:
    • Partnerships highly encouraged both to provide additional support services to families and to off-set program costs through in-kind support
    • Examples of partnerships include local school districts; children's museums; food banks, grocery stores and restaurants; medical and dental clinics; women's shelters (needs assessment and mental health counseling); colleges and universities (adult continuing education component of PCEP, program research and interns); places of worship (classroom space); discount stores (home and hygiene products, books and toys, etc. to use as incentives for program participation for parents/caregivers)

Program Delivery

Child/Adolescent Services

AVANCE Parent-Child Education Program (PCEP) directly provides services to children/adolescents and addresses the following:

  • Developmental delays: cognitive, adaptive and physical, emotional, social or language (identified through assessment and/or observation); disruptive behaviors; medical/dental needs; child abuse/neglect

Parent/Caregiver Services

AVANCE Parent-Child Education Program (PCEP) directly provides services to parents/caregivers and addresses the following:

  • Parental stress/mental health
  • Health/medical needs
  • Lack of basic services
  • Lack of food
  • Housing needs
  • Translation needs
  • Adult illiteracy
  • Financial illiteracy
  • Lack of education
Services Involve Family/Support Structures:

This program involves the family or other support systems in the individual's treatment: AVANCE encourages all primary caregivers to attend the program; these often include grandparents and other family members living in the household. This program involves the family or other support systems in the individual's treatment: AVANCE encourages all primary caregivers to attend the program; these often include grandparents and other family members living in the household. In addition, AVANCE partners with many local community agencies including those providing social and health services, financial literacy, job training, etc. to connect families with holistic services. Local community agencies provide resources to families during the third hour of the weekly small-group sessions. In addition, Home Educators work to provide individualized referrals based on in-home observations of families' needs. Once in the home, the Home Educator is often the first to know when families have special needs and therefore must be experts regarding community resources and referral information; the goal is to help parents learn how to help themselves.

Recommended Intensity:

Parent/primary caregiver contacts: Once per week for three hours; Child contacts: Once per week for three hours (early childhood education provided while parents are in class); Parent-Child contacts: Once per month for 30-45 minutes (minimum) in the home

Recommended Duration:

Families participate in the voluntary program for nine months. Upon completion of a minimum of 75% of classes, parents/primary caregivers graduate and participate in the commencement ceremony with their children, Parents/primary caregivers are encouraged to return for a second year in which they are assisted with adult education and job training.

Delivery Settings

This program is typically conducted in a(n):

  • Birth Family Home
  • Community-based Agency / Organization / Provider
  • School Setting (Including: Day Care, Day Treatment Programs, etc.)


AVANCE Parent-Child Education Program (PCEP) includes a homework component:

Families are encouraged to utilize the skills they learned in the PCEP classes in their daily lives at home. Participants are encouraged to read and play with their child every day. They are given a bilingual "possibility sheet with each toy to guide them in learning through play. AVANCE recognizes the importance of computer literacy for both parents and children and acknowledges a wealth of educational resources available online, frequently free of charge to families. AVANCE strives to remove barriers to accessing these resources which can be intimidating to those who are not computer literate or do not have access to equipment. AVANCE not only introduces families to online/computer based resources provided by the Organization's partners (WGBH, Sesame Workshop, etc.), but also guides families on how to use these resources in class as well as in the home or library.


AVANCE Parent-Child Education Program (PCEP) has materials available in a language other than English:


For information on which materials are available in this language, please check on the program's website or contact the program representative (contact information is listed at the bottom of this page).

Resources Needed to Run Program

The typical resources for implementing the program are:

  • Personnel (based on number of families served): Parent Educator, Home Educator, Toy-making Instructor, Early Childhood Educator
  • Adequate space for parents/primary caregivers and children (child classrooms should follow general ratio requirements)
  • Computer and telecommunication capabilities
  • A/V equipment (projector and speakers)
  • Toy-making materials/supplies
  • Early childhood development furniture/toys/books/supplies
  • Community resource materials and books
  • Transportation compliant with child safety standards (for families unable to travel to classes)
  • Nutritious meals/snacks
  • Strong, stable, and sustainable funding for agency operations

In addition, a community advisory board is recommended to help develop partnerships that are integral to the AVANCE Parent-Child Education Program. AVANCE welcomes the opportunity to discuss with prospective providers PCEP components and implementation, including staffing and delivery options and ways to integrate the PCEP within an organization's existing services. For more information, please contact the Training Contact below.

Manuals and Training

Prerequisite/Minimum Provider Qualifications

All positions are required to complete initial AVANCE training and obtain biannual refresher training. All staff must be able to read and speak the language of the families they serve. AVANCE parent graduates are to be considered for staff positions.

Generally, staff are from the community or very familiar with the area being canvassed. They are trained to be culturally sensitive, alert, enthused, self-confident, and self-assured and to present themselves in a caring and genuine manner. Because many staff members tend to be program graduates, they can relate firsthand experiences on the benefits of participation and can calm newcomers who may be nervous about enrolling in the program.

Educational requirements for primary PCEP positions:

  • Parent Educator - BA degree in education, psychology or related human services field
  • Toy-making Instructor - high school diploma or equivalent
  • Home Educator - high school diploma or equivalent
  • Early Childhood Educator - high school diploma or equivalent with a Child Development Associate credential
  • Early Childhood Educator Aide - high school diploma or equivalent

Preferred skills/training:

  • Bilingual (in English and in the preferred language of participants; traditionally Spanish)
  • Experience working with adults and children or in a family support services environment
  • PCEP graduate
  • Experience in management and supervision

Manual Information

There is a manual that describes how to deliver this program.

Training Information

There is training available for this program.

Training Contact:
Training Type/Location:
  • Onsite at National Office in San Antonio, Texas
  • Onsite at provider location
  • Distance-learning (live stream via web, webinars)
Number of days/hours:

For first-time Parent and Home Educators:

  • 40 hours of face-to-face education and experiential practice

For first-time Early Childhood Educators and Supervisor of Childhood Services:

  • 40 hours of face-to-face education and experiential practice

For first-time Toy-making Instructors:

  • 32 hours of face-to-face education and experiential practice

Biannual recertification training:

  • 24-hours Peer Networking and Training Summit

Monthly support calls with the National Office

Implementation Information

Pre-Implementation Materials

There are pre-implementation materials to measure organizational or provider readiness for AVANCE Parent-Child Education Program (PCEP) as listed below:

AVANCE has developed a Pre-Implementation Organizational Assessment for organizations interested in implementing the AVANCE Parent-Child Education Program (PCEP) in order to measure organizational readiness. Based on AVANCE's experience implementing the PCEP in new communities, several preliminary guidelines have been devised to help determine if an organization is equipped to provide the program. AVANCE welcomes the opportunity to discuss with prospective providers PCEP components and implementation, including delivery options and ways to integrate the PCEP within an organization's existing services, and to explore potential partnerships. AVANCE has also developed a toolkit including implementation guidelines, curriculum samples, and impact data to guide prospective partners in determining if the PCEP is a good fit for their organization/school district. For organizations interested in bringing the PCEP to their community, contact the program representative (contact information at the bottom of this page).

Formal Support for Implementation

There is formal support available for implementation of AVANCE Parent-Child Education Program (PCEP) as listed below:

Every site is assigned a Trainer from the AVANCE National Office who is available on an ongoing basis to answer questions, provide guidance and coaching, and assist with program implementation and delivery. Communication between program staff and the assigned AVANCE trainer is paramount to not only ensure fidelity to the program, but also to make sure program staff have a substantial level of training and mentorship to be able to deliver the program confidently and provide the quality of service to families for which AVANCE is known. In addition, AVANCE shares resources from its portfolio of national partners, including Ascend at the Aspen Institute , Sesame Workshop, and WGBH (PBS's largest producer of children's educational programming), with program sites.

Formal support for implementation provided by the AVANCE National Office includes the following:

  • Monthly peer-networking phone conferences with Parent Educators and other program staff
  • Hands-on training, including assistance with setting up classrooms and preparing lesson plans for parents and children
  • On-site observation during which program staff shadow the AVANCE trainer and participate in role-playing exercises
  • Monitoring to ensure program fidelity, conducted twice a year for new sites and once a year for existing sites. AVANCE sends out monitoring forms prior to the visit so that staff can conduct a self-assessment. If deficiencies are found during the monitoring visit, AVANCE works with program staff to create a corrective action plan and provides assistance to help sites meet AVANCE program standards.
  • Online meetings are also available to do refresher sessions throughout the year on a variety of topics
  • Help desk tickets are available for program staff to submit questions or concerns at any time, which are reviewed and responded to daily
  • AVANCE provides an end-of-year evaluation to each site. Assistance is provided to ensure AVANCE has all the intake, pretest, and posttest data to be able to provide the site a comprehensive report at the end of the program year.

Fidelity Measures

There are fidelity measures for AVANCE Parent-Child Education Program (PCEP) as listed below:

On-site monitoring visits are conducted by National Office staff to assess fidelity of all components of the PCEP based on the Program Standards and Operations Manual. Monitoring forms are used to evaluate the classroom set-up and environment, program staff, and fidelity to the model (including the delivery of the following core components: parenting education, toy-making, community resources, home visiting, and early childhood education). Reports are provided to sites within 30 days of the visit with a summary of findings, including any recommendations and action items that need to be addressed.

For more information, please contact the Training Contact above.

Implementation Guides or Manuals

There are implementation guides or manuals for AVANCE Parent-Child Education Program (PCEP) as listed below:

The following guides/manuals are available to PCEP sites & staff:

  • Program Standards and Operations Manual
  • Training guides for each PCEP position explain in detail key components of the program model, philosophy, and vision; guidelines regarding program delivery; duties and responsibilities for each position
    • Parent Educator
    • Home Educator
    • Toy-making Instructor
    • Supervisor of Children's Services
    • Early Childhood Educator
  • Data Collection and Management Protocol describes the purpose and implementation of the evaluation tools used with participants (intake, pre/post AVANCE Parent Questionnaire, home visiting observation form, exit interview); process and procedure of data collection and reporting; and guidance on best practices for implementing these measurements in a low-literacy, group setting

For more information, please contact the Training Contact above.

Research on How to Implement the Program

Research has been conducted on how to implement AVANCE Parent-Child Education Program (PCEP) as listed below:

The National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) has conducted phase one of a two-phase study examining implementation and adaptation of the Parent-Child Education Program for communities that are both ethnically and geographically diverse (e.g., African-American community in Brooklyn, NY; Latino (non-Mexican origin [community in Newark, NJ); and Native American community in Cloquet, MN. Historically, the AVANCE Parent-Child Education Program was designed for and delivered in low-income Mexican-American communities; however, preliminary research from NIEER shows the program is adaptable for more diverse communities.

Relevant Published, Peer-Reviewed Research

Child Welfare Outcome: Child/Family Well-Being

Johnson, D., Walker, T. B., & Rodriguez, G. G. (1996). Teaching low-income mothers to teach their children. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 11(1),101–114. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0885-2006(96)90031-9

Type of Study: Randomized controlled trial
Number of Participants: 486


  • Age — Not specified
  • Race/Ethnicity — 100% Mexican American
  • Gender — 100% Female
  • Status — Participants were mothers of children 1–24 months old from low income families.

Location/Institution: San Antonio, TX

Summary: (To include basic study design, measures, results, and notable limitations)
The purpose of the study was to report the findings from Avance intervention [now called AVANCE Parent-Child Education Program (PCEP)]. Participants were randomly assigned to the intervention or a control group. Measures utilized include the Home Observation for Measurement of the Environment (HOME), a videotaped Mother-Child Interaction free play session, and the Early Learning Questionnaire. Results indicate that significant intervention effects were found for both the randomized and matched comparison sites. Mothers in the intervention displayed more positive affect, better communication skills, and higher quality cognitive stimulation. Limitations include high attrition rate for the intervention group, randomization at one site only, and poor generalizability to other ethnic groups.

Length of controlled postintervention follow-up: 1 year.

Schaller, A., Rocha, L. O., & Barshinger, D. (2007). Maternal attitudes and parent education: How immigrant mothers support their child's education despite their own low levels of education. Early Childhood Education, 34(5), 351–356. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10643-006-0143-6

Type of Study: Posttest–only study
Number of Participants: 59


  • Age — Not specified
  • Race/Ethnicity — 100% Mexican American
  • Gender — 100% Female
  • Status — Participants were mothers from low income families.

Location/Institution: Dallas, Texas

Summary: (To include basic study design, measures, results, and notable limitations)
The purpose of the study was to examine Mexican immigrant mothers of young children in the AVANCE-Dallas early childhood intervention program [now called AVANCE Parent-Child Education Program (PCEP)]. Measures utilized include a survey that assessed mothers’ attitude toward education at various levels. Results indicate that low-educational parents often exhibit ambitious attitudes about educational achievement for their children. Though they lack an extensive academic background, which places their children at risk for low education, their positive attitude manifested in daily pro-educational behaviors overcomes their low education level because they both motivate their children to pursue academic success and participate in their children’s learning. Results also indicate that the best way to capitalize on immigrant parents’ educational drive for their children is to partner with them—either through an intervention program or through early childhood educators’ interaction with parents—by showing them how their participation in their children’s learning through concrete activities (such as regular mother–child conversation, daily reading, and playtime activities that teach developmental skills) may increase their chances of achieving academic success. Limitations include the lack of baseline data, use of a study-developed measure, and no control group.

Length of controlled postintervention follow-up: None.

Additional References

Chase-Lansdale, P. L. & Brooks-Gunn, J. (2014). Two-generation programs in the twenty-first century. Future of Children, 24(1), 13-39. https://www.jstor.org/stable/23723381

TexProtects, & Prevent Child Abuse Texas. (2020, November). Home visiting in Texas 4.0. https://www.texprotects.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/home_visiting_in_texas_landscape_final.pdf

Contact Information

Elida Gonzales
Title: Chief Operating Officer
Agency/Affiliation: AVANCE, Inc.
Website: www.avance.org
Phone: (210) 230-9673

Date Research Evidence Last Reviewed by CEBC: September 2022

Date Program Content Last Reviewed by Program Staff: February 2017

Date Program Originally Loaded onto CEBC: April 2008