Family Advocate Specialist

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The Family Advocate Specialist has a primary role on the Next Door’s interdisciplinary team for engaging and involving families of children at school through activities, practices and services that support parents as the primary nurturers, experts and teachers of their child in order to promote and sustain their child’s learning development and academic; and life success. The Family Advocate Specialist has a specific and intentional role in the following three 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 and provide 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 Home of Educare and in the K-12 system. 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.


  • Promoting and enhancing the parent-child relationship. 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.
  • Utilize all informal and formal opportunities to build and maintain the relationships.
  • Collaborate with the agency’s interdisciplinary teams to promote families’ understanding and management of their child’s behaviors, including positive approaches to discipline, as well as management of their own emotional responses.
  • Lead work with families to identify child and family strengths, areas of need, and develop goals to further develop the parent-child relationship through Family Assessments and Family Partnership Agreements and conduct follow-up on family goals and objectives.
  • Support and assist families in crisis, as crisis and its related stress impact both the parent-child relationship and the child’s development.
  • Conduct regular family home visits and face-to-face interactions with families.
  • Promote parent involvement in supporting their child’s growth and development.
  • Access and disseminate resources for families that pertain to children’s healthy growth and development.
  • Contribute to the planning and facilitation of classroom family meetings, parent education activities, and family home activities that focus on child development and support the classroom learning activities.
  • Access and disseminate resources for families that pertain to children’s healthy growth and development.
  • Contribute to the planning and facilitation of classroom family meetings, parent education activities, and family home activities that focus on child development and support the classroom learning activities.
  • Conduct follow-up on absenteeism (including excessive tardiness) in order to identify and address barriers to children’s regular attendance.
  • Actively participate in multidisciplinary teams in Family Child Reviews and staffing to provide support to families in their effort to promote their child’s developmental needs.
  • Encouraging parent involvement in the education of their child and in the Head Start program.
  • Participate in the recruitment, enrollment, and orientation of families entering the school including completing paperwork with the families.
  • 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 parents’ overall participation in program governance.
  • In collaboration with the Family Support Supervisor and Parent Involvement Specialist, facilitate Parent Committee meetings.
  • Refer parents of children who have disabilities and/or behavioral concerns to the Special Education department or Birth-to-three.
  • Mentor parents of children who have disabilities and/or behavioral concerns in building relationships and developing effective communication skills within the education system.
  • Lead the internal planning and subsequent involvement of parents in all of their children’s program transitions, i.e., into the program, from EHS to HS and from HS to kindergarten.
  • Develop working relationships with local schools to help coordinate the successful transition of children and families from Next Door to their next quality school of choice.
  • In collaboration with the ERSEA team, support families to initiate and maintain eligibility for childcare subsidies in full day/full year classrooms. Support and promote the agency’s mission and values.
  • Maintain an appropriate caseload of clients in the Early Head Start and Head Start Program, number to be determined by ERSEA Coordinator, Family Support Manager and Family Support Supervisor.
  • Actively participate in staff meetings, trainings, Family Child Reviews, case consultations and other collaborative planning meetings.
  • Maintain up-to-date records in Child Plus (our 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 in Child Plus.
  • Assist with follow-up of health screenings, immunizations verifications and outside agency referrals for the purpose of promoting needed treatment and compliance with licensing and program requirements.
  • Participate in the program monitoring and program’s self-evaluation and continuous improvement of Head Start services, and ensure compliance with Head Start Performance Standards.
  • Make referrals and link children and families to needed community services; follow-up on referrals made and outcomes to help ensure family’s needs are met.
  • Cultivate relationships with appropriate and effective referral agencies and individuals to enable referrals for families to receive needed services not provided by the program.
  • Attend NDF training and meetings as required.

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 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 in Human Services, Social Work or related field and 1-2 years of experience, preferably in Head Start or Early Head Start programs, working with children and families. Bachelor degree preferred.
  • 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.

Special Position Requirements (Educare Only)

  • Communicate the Educare model to parents during recruitment and enrollment. Work with the family to complete the parent interview in accordance with the implementation study (Educare).


  • 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.
  • Cultural sensitivity and competency in all interactions with both families and colleagues; demonstrating value for diversity and demonstrated ability to maintain confidentiality.
  • Ability to work within an interdisciplinary team as a cooperative and 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 the Next Door at all times including 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.

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.

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, fingering, handling, 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 settings with some travel between sites occasionally required.


  • N/A

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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