Pasco conference helps migrant parents find resources

PASCO -- Keeping tabs on how your children are progressing in school can be a daunting task for parents, especially when there's a language barrier.

For more than two decades, the Pasco School District's migrant and bilingual Parent Advisory Committee has helped migrant parents navigate more easily through the school system, community resources as well as government agencies that can help them adapt.

On Saturday, the committee held its annual conference, which featured sessions for families with children of all ages to create healthy relationships, as well as to develop a sense of teamwork between parents, the kids and the school district, said Liz Padilla Flynn, executive director of student achievement for Pasco Schools.

"This conference is planned by parents who volunteer their time to help others," Flynn said. "All the presentations are given in Spanish."

The presentations include sessions on family literacy, internet safety, community oriented policing and creating healthy teen relationships, she said.

More than 600 migrant families turned out for the event, which encourages Hispanic families to participate in the community through leadership and goal setting, as well as sessions on English as a second language.

"Every year, more and more parents are encouraged to learn (English) so they can understand how to keep up with their children's progress in school," Flynn said. "These people want very much to learn English, so those ESL sessions are always full during this conference."

The school district also buses in families from the outlining areas of Franklin County.

"We don't want anyone to not be able to attend this conference because of transportation problems, which is why we send the buses to pick them up," Flynn said. "The conference is that important to them and for the district."

The conference started at 8:30 a.m. and continued until 2:30 p.m. A lunch break at noon also included live music and dancing.

And while the parents attended various sessions, their kids were entertained by volunteer teachers who kept them busy with projects and games.