Family Advocate Specialist

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Partnership Sites: COA Burke, COA Riverwest, Children and Youth of Esteem, Neighborhood House, St. Joseph Academy, Elaine Schrieber, and YMCA

Position Overview

The Family Advocate Specialist (FAS) has a primary role of engaging and involving families of enrolled students in activities, practices and services that support parents as the primary nurturer, experts, and teachers of their child in order to promote and sustain their child’s academic learning and development and life success.  The FAS will also develop strategies to meet or exceed Head Start Performance Standards compliance and mandates that relate to student attendance, tardiness, enrollment, family engagement, and health records. 

This position is community-based, supporting two to three Childcare Partnership sites to embed Early Head Start and Head Start services in sites not directly operated by Next Door. This position works from Next Door location two days a week for team connection, training and support.

FAS has a specific and intentional role in the following areas of work with families:

  • Activities/strategies that promote and enhance the parent-child relationship.
  • Activities/strategies that engage parents in discussions about their child’s growth and development.  Providing parents information and opportunities to learn about concrete things they can do to promote their child’s learning.
  • Activities/strategies that encourage parents’ involvement in the education of their child and in their child’s school both at Next Door and their child’s Childcare Partnership Site.  This includes helping parents recognize and expect “quality education”; know how to access quality elementary schools; and learn how to advocate for a quality education for their child.
  • Activities and strategies that support parents in achieving family and community outcomes.


  • Professional Development.
  • Being an active participant in Reflective supervision and reflective practice groups.
  • Utilize specialized trainings when working with families i.e. Touchpoints, Trauma Informed Care, Motivational Interviewing, Family Development Credential, assist and open to mentoring opportunities.

Education Program Development

  • Develop strategies with families that help them appreciate and contribute to the educational activities of the agency and successfully use their own voices to advocate on behalf of their children and themselves. 
  • Promote an average school attendance that meets or exceeds Head Start expectations.
  • Monitor monthly attendance and create an attendance plan with families that fall below expected attendance.  
  • Mentor parents in building relationships, advocacy, and effective communications skills (conflict resolution).
  • Actively participate in the internal planning and subsequent involvement of parents in all of their child’s program transitions, from EHS to HS, HS to Kindergarten.
  • Develop working relationships with local schools to help coordinate the successful transition of children and families from the child’s childcare partnership site to a quality school.
  • Provide educational opportunities and strategies that assist parents to achieve PFCE outcome. 
  • Promote parents’ overall participation in program governance and family engagement opportunities.

Interdisciplinary Work and Collaboration

  • Facilitates and participates in interdisciplinary work and collaboration among all program staff.
  • Collaborate with classroom staff to co-facilitate two parent teacher conferences and two home visits.
  • Collaborate with classroom teaching staff to provide a minimum of four classroom family meetings.
  • Actively participate in multidisciplinary teams in Family Child Reviews and staffing to provide support to families in their effort to support and promote their child’s developmental needs.
  • Attend Positive Behavior Support team meetings.
  • At a minimum, participate in a monthly meeting with assigned sites and/or classroom staff regarding updates and sharing of information.

Administrative Support:

  • Establish a Family Partnership agreement that aligns with the Family Outcomes/Family Needs Assessments.
  • Support and promote the agency’s mission and values. Participate in the recruitment, enrollment, and orientation of families entering the school including completing the paperwork with the family. 
  • Actively participate in staff meetings, trainings, and collaborative team meetings.
  • Maintain up-to-date records in Child Plus (the electronic tracking system).  Track monthly statistics and generate reports as needed for: enrollment, attendance, meal service, class lists, transportation needs, childcare authorization, and parent volunteer hours.
  • Support families in obtaining student immunizations, establishing a medical and dental home, and ensuring that they are up to date on the EPSDT to achieve the highest level of compliance as mandated by the Department of Public Instruction, Head Start Performance Standards, and Wisconsin Licensing Regulations.
  • Cultivate relationships with appropriate referral agencies and individuals for families to receive services not provided by the program.
  • Attend Next Door trainings and meetings as required.


  • Participate in Self- Assessment, peer assessments, and program monitoring and continuous improvement of program services. 
  • Conduct follow-up on absenteeism (including excessive tardiness) in order to identify and address barriers to children’s regular attendance.
  • Analyze data to inform decisions for continuous program improvement and service delivery.
  • Conduct family and other program surveys that include PFCE outcomes assessments, Family Needs Assessments, and Parent Interviews.

Home/School Connection

  • Develop and sustain collaborative relationships with an assigned caseload of families and serve as their primary point of contact on behalf of their child’s and their own involvement in Next Door
  • Conduct family home visits when necessary and regular face to face interactions.
  • Provide individualized resources and support that documents progress and follow up towards accomplished identified needs, goals.
  • Actively participate in meetings to provide individualized support for families in their effort to promote their child’s academic success.
  • Support and assist families in crisis, as it relates to consistent attendance, academic success, and the child’s development.
  • Work with families to identify child and family strengths, areas of need, and develop goals to further develop the parent-child relationship.
  • Promote and enhance the parent-child relationship.
  • Promote parent involvement in supporting their child’s growth and development.
  • Classroom Management.
  • Collaborate with the agencies interdisciplinary teams to promote an understanding and management of student behaviors, positive approaches to discipline, as well as supporting staff in management of emotional responses.
  • Be an active participant in assisting and supporting active supervision.


  • Perform other duties as assigned.
  • Accountability and Performance Requirement.
  • All staff members are accountable for knowing and performing the responsibilities associated with their individual position in an efficient and effective manner, understanding that each of us plays an integral role in the success of our mission.  All staff will support the agency mission, vision, standards of conduct/code of ethics and strategic directions and support administrative decisions.  This must be demonstrated by maintaining a positive work environment, and by behaving and communicating in an appropriate manner with children, families, coworkers, supervisors and the public while achieving performance expectations.


  • Associate Degree required in Human Services, Social Work or other related field.
  • A minimum of 2 years’ experience working with children and families.
  • Ability to establish supportive, positive relationships with children and families from diverse backgrounds by means of home visits, face-to-face interactions, and phone contacts.
  • Ability to demonstrate cultural sensitivity and competency in all interactions with families, students, and colleagues.
  • Ability to demonstrate and maintain confidentiality among classroom teams.
  • Ability to work within an interdisciplinary team as a cooperative supportive team member.
  • Demonstrate sense of responsibility through good attendance, effective time management, dependability, accountability, flexibility, strong ethical standards, self­-discipline, and ability to utilize reflective supervision.
  • Knowledge and understanding of human growth and development and of family and social interaction.
  • Ability to work within and support the mission and values of Next Door while representing the agency in the community.
  • Knowledge of and ability to utilize interpersonal skills such as conflict resolution and/or mediation, and group facilitation.
  • Strong oral and written communication skills.
  • Ability to utilize word processing, electronic data entry systems, and other office and classroom equipment.
  • Some evening and weekend hours may be required.

Special Position Requirements

  • Possession of a valid driver’s license, and a driving record meeting the driver selection standards as established by Next Door.
  • Ability to have regular use of an insured, privately owned vehicle on a daily basis, and the ability to conduct off site visits.
  • Must have liability insurance of $100,000/$300,000 on first day of employment.
  • Preferences
  • N/A
  • Work Requirements
  • Other duties as assigned.

Safety and Health

  • Next Door is committed to providing a safe work environment and to fostering the well-being and health of its employees. An essential part of each employees’ job is the development of safe working practices and the observance of safety rules, including:
  • Following safety warnings and directions at all times.
  • Using personal safety devices when required.
  • Reporting any unsafe conditions to supervisor.
  • Following process for reporting suspected child abuse and neglect.
  • Reporting unsupervised children, after ensuring child’s safety.
  • Implement active supervision practices at all times, including transition times.
  • Ensure knowledge of each assigned child’s location at all times.

Physical Demands

  • Primarily active work; occasionally lifting up, holding or moving up to 50 lbs.
  • Physical Activity    
  • Bending, stooping, kneeling, sitting on the floor, walking/transporting, handling, feeling reaching, climbing, balancing, crouching, crawling, talking and speaking clearly, hearing conversation level, tasting, smelling and seeing; ability to interact daily with children outdoors in varied weather condition.

Work Environment

  • Combination of office and Early Childhood Center setting with some travel between sites occasionally required. 


  • Ability to make frequent, significant decisions to understand and react to the development process of children. 
  • Ability to respond quickly and competently to an emergency or crisis situation in order to keep children safe.

Join an award-winning team doing the most important work in Milwaukee.

This is your opportunity to help create bright futures and a stronger Milwaukee! Our teachers and staff are guided by Next Door’s mission: to support the intellectual, physical and emotional development of children by partnering with their families for success in school and in the community.

At Next Door, we work hard to ensure Milwaukee children living in poverty get a strong start to life during the most critical period of brain development, ages birth to three. You can help a child achieve that start in the classroom, in a home visitation setting, through family advocacy or in a wide variety of support roles.

Our employees also play a big role in shaping the future of Next Door. Driven by our strategic plan, you can help Next Door become the preeminent leader in early childhood education in Milwaukee and the employer of choice among early childhood professionals.

What we offer

Next Door teachers and support staff enjoy low teacher-student ratios, ongoing professional development opportunities at no cost, coaching support and extensive community partnerships that enhance our services.

We also offer employees competitive salaries, a strong benefits package, staff engagement opportunities with the KEEP (Keep Employees Engaged as Partners) Committee, paid holidays plus a paid time-off program and free parking.

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