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I am passionate about:
Although I am passionate about a number of things, i think that they all are related to making human connections. For example, connecting to infants and toddlers has led me to be more observant, & I have learned a great deal from listening to others
A little known fact about me is:
I was born in Bolivia and raised in the US and Bolivia. By the time I graduated from high school I had moved 13 times.
Early Childood Specialist
McFarren Aviles & Associates
"Let's look for the solution to the problem, not the problem to the solution."
I am passionate about working with infant/toddler early childhood professionals, the Latino community, and creating synergies amongst key stakeholders. In 2015 I started my own consulting firm to foster leaders in early childhood development. I hold a Master of Arts degree in Curriculum Development from Teacher’s College, Columbia University and have over 36 years of extensive experience working in United States, Latin America, Asia, and the Middle East, providing customized training, technical assistance, and coaching to early care and education staff, parents, organizations.
Thanks for your message and link to the Localization toolkit. They were both music to my ears! I have worked in the United States and abroad for the past 36 years and believe that early childhood strategies are universal if they are transcreated (not translated). Every culture and setting is different, and unless we take the time to listen to the key stakeholders, in this case families of infants and toddlers and health care practitioners, we can not achieve sustainable change. The participatory tools are ones that I have used in Bolivia, and in the States to a lesser degree. Using Participatory Learning and Action - PLA techniques opens up the dialogue between stakeholders. It creates an empowering framework for the parent to be heard and acknowledged for the knowledge they bring to the table. It's precisely what the Localization toolkit seems to emphasize as well- getting to know the end users in terms of what are they thinking, how do they support infant and toddler development? Even within the United States there is a wide range of perspectives. Infants and toddlers come from multicultural-lingual families and live in urban and rural settings. The PLA tools are aimed at understanding their perspective, engage in a feedback loop to share the results of the research, and together develop plan of action. For example, in a program I worked in the District of Columbia, we used the PLA tool of community mapping to understand what resources were identified by parents that could support them with the development of their child. They each took turns "taking control of the baton (marker)" and drawing the resource they used or new of. It was interesting that this activity was completed right after another organization had given them a lecture on all of the resources available. The parents however didn't list those resources on their map. They listed many others that hadn't even been discussed during the lecture presentation.
Although, the PLA technique is not widely used in the United States, from my experience working in urban early childhood settings in New Jersey, DC, Virginia and West Virginia, and developing infant/toddler curriculum and training programs, I am convinced that if used more widely, parents and caregivers' voices would be heard more effectively. Programs for infants and toddlers in the United States vary widely in the quality of the programs, including the effectiveness of family engagement. Likewise, research has shown that toxic stress negatively affects neuron connections in young children and has lasting impact on the health of adults. Severe Neglect in Family settings, is a phenomenon that is wide spread in the United States that is found in families who are themselves under a great deal of stress or haven't had positive roles model. Hearing their voices and understanding and valuing their own experiences can be a powerful tool that builds trusting relationships needed to make positive change.
Here is a link to the participatory research I conducted in Bolivia and proposed for the current project http://www.ecdgroup.com/download/ca120ctl.pdf I would love to engage with you and others on how to transcreate the tools to fit into the Colorado context.