hispanic heritage month

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month

Explore stories from early childhood professionals, learn about different cultures, and find resources for modeling inclusiveness to challenge racial stereotypes from the start.

Highlighting Hispanic & Latin American Leaders

Actress Sonia Manzano, best known for playing Maria on “Sesame Street” for over four decades.  She speaks with our Chief Policy Officer Miriam Calderón about identity,  honoring culture and her legacy through “Alma’s Way.”

In these interviews, Raquel, Luisa and Abel walk us through the intersection of their racial identities and interactions as early childhood professionals.

Raquel Munarriz Diaz, EdD

Dr. Diaz is a ZERO TO THREE Fellow and Senior Partnership Manager for the University of Florida Lastinger Center. Her impressive 32 years in the field spans many aspects of early childhood education and professional development.

Luisa Soaterna-Castañeda, MPH

As the Director of Program Management and Technology for the National Center on Early Childhood Development, Teaching and Learning at ZERO TO THREE, Luisa plays a key role in supporting and developing resources & technology solutions for Head Start and Early Head Start.

Abel Covarrubias, MA

Abel is Founder and CEO of Aprendamos Intervention Team, an organization providing early intervention services in Doña Ana County, New Mexico, and a Board Member of ZERO TO THREE.


About the interviewer: Melissa Flores is currently the Program Coordinator for HealthySteps and has worked for ZERO TO THREE for more than 8 years. She was born and raised in Arlington County, VA, in diverse community with a large Hispanic population. Her great-grandparents migrated to the US in the 1920s from Guanajuato, Mexico. Her father and his siblings were conditioned to hide their cultural identity and therefore did not learn to speak Spanish or embrace the cultural norms of their Mexican heritage. These experiences impacted Melissa greatly and influenced her to learn and embrace her Hispanic background so that she can equip her daughter to not just know and be comfortable with, but to celebrate her roots. Melissa is currently learning Spanish and is teaching her daughter to be bi-lingual. For all of these reasons, she is honored to be recognized as a member of the Hispanic community and have a role in celebrating this significant recognition of Hispanic and Latin American history and culture.

Resources for Professionals

Below are a few of our favorite resources for early childhood professionals supporting Hispanic children and families.

  • Critical Connections Leaflets
    Thirteen leaflets illustrate real life moments shared by caregiver and child that encourage caring, nurturing, and fun. Becoming Me! Becoming We! explores our little one’s sense of identity and belonging.
  • Building Relationships and Buffering Toxic Stress: Group-Based Medical Care With Spanish-Speaking Latino Families
    Pregnant women and young children who experience toxic stress are at risk for negative health outcomes. The “medical home” is seen as a place to address toxic stress by promoting healthy relationships, but Spanish-speaking Latino families face challenges accessing the medical home while simultaneously confronting unique stressors. This article describes a group model for medical visits during pregnancy and early childhood, an intervention designed to promote relationships and address toxic stress for Spanish-speaking Latino families.
  • Historical, Sociopolitical and Mental Health Implications of Forcibly Separations in Young Migrant Latin American Children and Their Families
    This article addresses immigration as a psychosocial event and describes the different stages of the immigration process, when immigration becomes traumatic, and how each immigration stage can place vulnerable Latin American families, at high risk for traumatic stress. The authors explore pre-migration experiences and the factors bringing young families to cross the United States– Mexico border. The authors discuss (a) the long- and short- term effects of family separations on young children and their caregivers, and (b) trauma- and diversity -informed interventions targeted at increasing safety, empowerment, and hope.
  • Beyond a Haircut, lunch pail, and new shoes: Opening Doors to School Readiness for Latino Children and their Parents Abriendo Puertas/Opening Doors is an evidence-based program developed by and for Latino parents of young children to address opportunity gaps related to young Latino children. The program gives parents the information they need to understand child development and to access needed supports and services that will allow their children to get the best possible start in school. The curriculum includes 10 interactive education sessions for parents that emphasize the importance of the parents’ involvement in their children’s education. Evaluation data reveals significant positive benefits from program participation.

Resources for Parents