NEWS RELEASE: Parents as Teachers
(ST. LOUIS – April 10, 2013) Parents as Teachers (PAT), which supports early childhood education using a nationally recognized home visiting model, soon will expand its efforts in four Wyoming counties to better serve high-needs families. The expansion is possible through a $3,988,908 million, 3½-year grant from the U.S. Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA). The focus will be on high-needs families with children ages prenatal to 36 months in the Wyoming counties of Albany, Fremont, Natrona and Sweetwater. The federal grant is part of the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program authorized through the Affordable Care Act.
PAT, which is headquartered in St. Louis, Mo., currently delivers its evidence-based home visiting model to more than 350,000 young children through almost 2,200 programs in all 50 U.S. states and seven other countries. In Wyoming, PAT will partner with the Wyoming Citizen Review Panel (WYCRP), which will be responsible for assessing needs in the four counties and spearheading efforts to connect families with services, beginning in early 2014 and continuing through September 2016.
Along with targeting high-needs families in the four counties, the Wyoming MIECHV program will partner with organizations to develop statewide plan to match families with the home visiting models that best meet their needs. To effectively build a home visiting system, PAT will collaborate with many organizations, including Wyoming Early Childhood Partnership, Early Head Start/Head Start, Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP), public health offices, and the Wyoming Department of Health, which funds the NFP and Best Beginnings home visiting programs in Wyoming.
"Research shows that high-quality early childhood education provided during home visits improves a child's ability to be successful in school and in life," said Scott Hippert, PAT president and chief executive officer. "The PAT evidence-based model helps parents learn how to become their child's first and most effective teacher. When parents embrace that role, we create stronger families and more engaged parents, and that leads to better outcomes in both school and life for the child."
Jennifer Davis, WYCRP executive director, said, "Wyoming has done a good job of establishing many services that meet the needs of our high-needs children and families. This grant builds on that and emphasizes the pivotal role early childhood education plays in giving children their best chance at future success."
Founded in the early 1980s in Missouri, PAT uses a proven parent education model that features in-home visits with parents and their children, from prenatal to school-age. PAT affiliates equip parents with knowledge and resources to prepare their children for a strong start in life and greater success in school. Data demonstrates that the combination of PAT services with quality preschool education reduces the achievement gap between poor and more advantaged children at kindergarten entry.
WYCRP, which was established in 1996, works with Wyoming's Department of Family Services to gather citizen input on social services offered to children and families. WYCRP's two major efforts are: Prevent Child Abuse Wyoming, which helps provide and coordinate primary prevention efforts against child abuse and neglect; and Wyoming Advocates for Youth, which works to help children in foster care transition into adulthood.
Wyoming's MIECHV program is unique from those in all other states, in that an early educational model developer – PAT – also is the lead organization delivering the program. In other states, state government agencies are typically in the lead role.
The grant provides funding to hire Wyoming-based parent educators and supervisors in the four targeted counties. At least 70 additional families will be served and will receive weekly home visits from parent educators over the grant period. "The challenges faced by some high-needs families require deeper support to build strong environments for learning and success," said Hippert. "By involving families in a variety of individual and group activities, we can help address additional issues that affect children's future success, such as domestic violence/child/substance abuse, poor nutrition, or developmental delays or disabilities."