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From the Press


More than 1,000 Early Childhood Parenting Experts to Gather at the 2021 Parents as Teachers International Conference in Baltimore on Oct. 11 – 14

Just a few weeks after being recognized by the Library of Congress with its “American Award,” Parents as Teachers (PAT) will convene more than 1,000 parent educators both in-person and online for its annual conference on Oct. 11 – 14 at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront Hotel in Baltimore, MD.

Founded in St. Louis in 1984, PAT quickly grew nationwide and internationally, and its widely used, evidence-based home visitation model and school readiness curriculum are considered the “gold standard” in parent education. The recent $50,000 Library of Congress award celebrated the group’s efforts to expand literacy and promote reading, and its status as “the most replicated home visiting model in the United States.”

“We are happy that Parents as Teachers is bringing its conference to Charm City,” said Baltimore Mayor Brandon M. Scott. “Strong families are the cornerstone of vibrant communities. This organization has a history of radically transforming and improving the lives of families, particularly those facing hardship. On behalf of the City of Baltimore, we welcome them and wish them a successful and productive conference.”

Parent as Teachers serves families with children from birth through age five, connecting them with professionally trained parent educators who provide support through home visitation and group sessions. The conference will showcase the latest trends in home visiting and help parent educators lay the foundation for healthy child development, positive parent-child relationships, and school readiness.

Constance Gully, Parents as Teachers president and chief executive officer: “We are excited to bring our conference to beautiful Baltimore to open channels of communication among family practitioners about the importance of home visiting and the essential nature of the early intervention as a strategy to reduce disparities, increase child and family well-being, advance effective parenting and mitigate racial and economic inequities.”

This past year, in the wake of COVID-19, the organization has demonstrated its resilience. When childcare centers, schools, and other child-serving agencies closed down across the nation, PAT’s home visiting programs were able to pivot quickly to virtual visiting using interactive video conferencing and telecommunications initiatives that had already been underway. It was able to continue delivering activity kits, diapers, hygiene products, and other necessities to families. And even amid the pandemic, a record 1,400 parent educators participated in PAT’s first-ever virtual conference last year, curated from its headquarters in St. Louis.

This year’s conference will feature a diverse and renowned cast of keynote speakers:

  • Dr. Joia Adele Crear-Perry, a physician, policy expert, thought leader, and advocate for transformational justice, founder, and president of the National Birth Equity Collaborative (NBEC) identifies and challenges racism as a root cause of health inequities. She is a highly sought-after trainer and speaker who has been featured in national and international publications including Essence and Ms. Magazine. In 2020, Dr. Crear-Perry was honored by USA Today in its “Women of the Century” series and was featured on ABC Nightline’s Hear Her Voice. Dr. Crear-Perry recently testified before Congress about racism as a root cause in health inequities and disparities. Earlier this year, she was named to Good Morning America’s “Inspiration List: Who’s Making Black History Right Now?”
  • Rev. Dr. Starsky Wilson, president, and CEO of the Children’s Defense Fund. Dr. Wilson, a philanthropist, and activist known for his work in Ferguson, Missouri during the riots following the killing of Michael Brown, will speak about the importance of advocacy. Earlier this year, in an address at Duke University he called for a “New Deal” style series of investments in America’s children.” In addition to his work at the celebrated Children’s Defense Fund, where he recently succeeded founder Marion Wright Edelman, Dr. Wilson also serves as board chair of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP), vice-chair of the Forum for Theological Exploration (FTE), and is the former president and CEO of the Deaconess Foundation.
  • Dana Suskind, M.D. will share insights from her bestselling book Thirty Million Words: Building A Child’s Brain. Described by National Public Radio as “the surgeon who became an activist for baby talk,” Dr. Suskind is also co-director of the TMW Center for Early Learning + Public Health. She is a professor of surgery at the University of Chicago, director of the Pediatric Cochlear Implant Program, and founding director of the Thirty Million Words Initiative, an innovative, evidence-based intervention program designed to help narrow the language gap between children from lower-income families and those in wealthier households.

These dynamic keynote speakers are supported with a generous grant from the Enterprise Holdings Foundation’s ROAD Forward Initiative. The foundation is the philanthropic arm of rental car giant Enterprise Holdings, based in Clayton, Missouri.

The 2021 conference will also feature more than 60 workshops and breakout sessions focused on behavioral and mental health, childcare advocacy, and networking topics, as well as Parent Educator of the Year awards and the Losos Prize for Innovation presentations. Among this year’s workshop topics:

  • Delivering Parenting Education Programs During and After COVID-19
  • Evaluating the Impact of Virtual Service Delivery on Families
  • Promoting Health Equity in Pregnancy and the First Year of Life: A Roadmap for Reducing Infant and Maternal Mortality and Morbidity
  • Put Your Own Oxygen Mask On First: Supporting Home Visitor Mental Health and Wellness
  • Embracing Culture and Supporting Bilingual Learners in the Early Years

Themed “Together Towards Tomorrow,” the 2021 Parents as Teachers conference will offer both in-person or remote streaming options, and recorded workshops will be available for on-demand viewing within a week after the conference. PAT has taken every precaution to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at the conference by adhering to all safety recommendations from the country’s health organizations.

“Parents as Teachers is deeply rooted in every community that serves children and families,” observed CEO Gully. “In the child and family advocacy space, we need to come together now more than ever to recognize our frontline workers, learn about the critical issues impacting children today, and serve as the voice for them and their families, communicating their needs to policymakers at the local, state and national level.”

Conference registration is underway at https://www.parentsasteachersconference.org/.