Texas State University has launched a new program to help the children of Central Texas janitors and custodial workers go to college. The outreach effort seeks to empower parents with knowledge of childhood milestones that prepare young students for college.
The university’s P-16 initiative targets low-income families in Central Texas to educate children from pre-K through four years of college.
Construyendo La Casa (building the house) was developed for janitorial employees because they are low-paid, often don’t speak English, and are less familiar with resources that are available for their families.
Grant specialist Isaac Torres said the grassroots effort will acquaint parents with the basics, like developmental milestones they can use to point their children toward college from a very early age.
"Young children need to be physically active. They need to participate in physical games and enhance their motor skills. When they get to the first and second grade, they need to be able to identify certain colors and certain names of animals. And in fifth and sixth grade, they need to start to read independently," Torres said.
Then the program will help the parents with resources for middle school and high school children to seek out colleges and fill out applications.
Torres said the program works by partnering with a janitorial service company that is hosting the workshops.
"The brilliance of this is that we don't have to go out to find these families. If there's an employer in Texas that a large body of their employees are Spanish-speaking, perhaps immigrants, it's a shortcut for us to get these services and this knowledge right to these families," Torres said.
Texas State estimates there are 165,000 janitors and custodial workers in Texas, earning an average of less than $10 an hour. The program is starting in Austin this weekend with plans to expand the outreach to Central Texas and San Antonio.