Parents as Teachers Inspires Fiscal Responsibility Among Young Parents

Its group connection tools strengthen family engagement

  From left: PAT Parent-Educator Tara Ervin, Donna Givens, manager of community partnerships and groups; Aminah Williams, parent educator, and Chiffontae Ross, model implementation specialist, look on as Terrence Trice holds his six-month-old daughter, Tayaina, as wife, Shaela, attends to Shaina, 6, during the Show Me Strong Families Goal$ and Assets: Family Conversations about Money financial literacy program. The class consisted of 13 families who gathered at a group connection for learning about managing money.

From left: PAT Parent-Educator Tara Ervin, Donna Givens, manager of community partnerships and groups; Aminah Williams, parent educator, and Chiffontae Ross, model implementation specialist, look on as Terrence Trice holds his six-month-old daughter, Tayaina, as wife, Shaela, attends to Shaina, 6, during the Show Me Strong Families Goal$ and Assets: Family Conversations about Money financial literacy program. The class consisted of 13 families who gathered at a group connection for learning about managing money.

On a recent Thursday afternoon, Terrence Trice sat in a financial literacy class amid a group of mostly single mothers holding infants and toddlers. He was there at the behest of Shaela, his wife of four years, and Parents as Teachers (PAT), an internationally-recognized leader in the early childhood development and home visiting field.

Parents as Teachers had convened 13 families to participate in its Show Me Strong Families (SMSF) community outreach program called Goal$ and Assets: Family Conversations about Money. SMSF is one of the Parents as Teachers 1,300 community engagement programs administered from the organization’s national headquarters here. It offers Goal$ and Assets as a six-week ongoing series designed to foster group connections and support family well-being by increasing financial education.

Terrence, 28, was the lone male enrolled in the series, held at The Heights in Richmond Heights, Mo. This Thursday was graduation day. The class eagerly awaited their certificates of completion and gift cards to open bank accounts, rewards for finishing the series. Terrence and Shaela, 25, attended with daughters Shaina, 6, and Tayaina, 6-months-old, a binary dynamic that was noticeable to all.

Of the class, Terrence, a north St. Louis city resident and St. Louis Public Schools product, said: “I thought I knew about handling money until my wife came home from the class and asked me to put together a budget. I realized then, that I had forgotten everything I thought I knew about money managing. In fact, when I used to get paid, I would give my money to my wife to manage.

“You see, I was raised to keep all my money in my pocket and spend it on whatever,” he lamented, adding, “but this program taught me how to make a budget and list things I needed money for; more important, (sic) it gave me an outlet to stay off the streets.”

Terrence’s circumstances are not that atypical. His tumultuous childhood only foreshadowed how he would cope with maturity. Like so many facing financial challenges, his road to discovery was a rocky one. His mother died when he was a child and his father dealt with problems that prevented him from being a permanent fixture in his life.

  Terrence Trice holds his six-month-old daughter, Tayaina.

Terrence Trice holds his six-month-old daughter, Tayaina.

Consequently, Terrence wound up in group homes – where he met Shaela, who also had been living on the margins. He languished there for 10 years until he broke the cycle as an adult, and began climbing the ladder out of hopelessness. He toiled in menial jobs and darted in and out of street life until he married Shaela. Together they forged a path toward self-improvement. The Goal$ and Assets classes gave them the chance to meet other young parents, some with similar circumstances.

Donna Givens, manager of community partnerships and groups at Parents as Teachers, set them up with group connections, part of SMSF’s formula for strengthening families. Givens’ talent for connections is emblematic of her job. She orchestrates group connections to give single, teen or stressed out parents the opportunities to build support networks.

“We use group connections to provide parents with learning experiences that give them the ability to parent their children around other families,” Givens said.

To date, SMSF has partnered with more than 400 families with nearly 500 children using the Parents as Teachers evidence-based home visiting model. The model delivers a program of services with 35 years of proven experience in increasing early learning, development, and the overall health of children by partnering trained professional educators with parents from the time of pregnancy until the child is born and enters first grade.

These interactions have positive outcomes for preventing child abuse and neglect in the long run and ensure that children are ready and prepared to learn when they reach school.

According to recent Census reports, annually about 5,000 mostly impoverished, local teens and young adults become new parents. They face financial hardships and other factors like higher rates of depression, food insecurities, and histories of surviving abuse and social isolation. These issues make it difficult for them and their children to succeed and often lead to child abuse and neglect. The Parents as Teachers home visitation model seeks to reverse that trend by helping fortify families.

Collaborating with like-minded organizations is a cornerstone of the Parents as Teachers home visiting model and an integral part of SMSF. Recently, City of St. Louis Treasurer Tishaura Jones visited a Goal$ and Assets class as part of the city’s Office of Financial Empowerment initiative. Through the program, the city conducts free workshops on credit building and money and budget management.

Givens said Jones’ inspirational message resonated with the parents and helped educate and empower them to make better choices with their money. “We were thrilled to have Ms. Jones as a guest speaker,” Givens said, adding, “Our parents, as well as our parent educators were stimulated by her genuine compassion for their circumstances.”

Parent educators are trained in the Parents as Teachers model. Many of them are parents who have used Parents as Teachers services. They help other parents navigate life’s ups and downs through personal home visits and, together, set goals for the parents to achieve. “They walk alongside with the families as partners every step of the way,” Givens said.

  PAT Parent-Educators Tara Ervin (background) and Aminah Williams tend to children of parents participating in the Show Me Strong Families Goals & Assets financial literacy program.

PAT Parent-Educators Tara Ervin (background) and Aminah Williams tend to children of parents participating in the Show Me Strong Families Goals & Assets financial literacy program.

Tara Ervin is one such parent educator. She has been working at Parents as Teachers for 15 months and serves 20 families. She goes into their homes at least twice a month for up to two years and helps with child development, kindergarten readiness and goal setting.

“It’s really rewarding to see families grow towards self-sufficiency,” Ervin said. “I like to think we play a vital role in helping them reach their goals and aspirations.”

The Thursday afternoon financial education class at The Heights had finally concluded. One-by-one, the young parents accepted their accolades. Terrence, holding Tayaina, had laudatory things to say about Ervin and Show Me Strong Families. He credits them both with making his life better.

“She’s been in my life a long time,” he said of Ervin, one of his most vocal and ardent supporters. “Thanks to her and this program, I can handle my own money and don’t have to rely on my wife to budget it for me. Now, I can save money for my kids and the whole family. That makes me feel really good.”

Statement on Separating Children from Families

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Families seeking asylum from danger or safe shelter from grinding poverty and unemployment—the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free—have long been welcomed to the United States. Yet, this spring, close to 2000 children were separated from their parents in a six-week period at our southern border by order of the Department of Homeland Security. This inhumane policy will do lasting damage to these children. 

“Highly stressful experiences, including family separation, can cause irreparable harm to lifelong development by disrupting a child’s brain architecture. Toxic stress is caused by prolonged exposure to heightened stress, and has detrimental short- and long-term health effects. When children are separated from their parents, it removes the buffer of a supportive adult or caregiver to help mitigate stress and protect against substantial impacts on their health that can contribute to chronic conditions like depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and heart disease.” American Academy of Pediatrics, Detention of Immigrant Children policy statement, 2017. 

Parents as Teachers partners with families of young children in all 50 states, including many immigrant and refugee families struggling to stay safe and secure and to raise their children in a healthy environment. For 35 years, we have focused on supporting families in reducing the types of stresses that can lead to child maltreatment so children feel safe, secure, and can be successful. Intentionally inflicting toxic stress on children as state-sanctioned policy is immoral, unconscionable and goes against every family value we hold dear as an organization and as a nation. 

No matter the circumstances, unless there are concerns for the child’s safety at the hand of the parent, families should never be pulled apart. Children need the love, support, and shelter of their families in order to learn, grow and develop to realize their full potential. We strongly oppose this policy. 

Constance Gully, President and CEO, Parents as Teachers National Center.

Parents as Teachers Co-Recipient of $1M Early Childhood Innovation Prize

Virtual Screening One Of Top 15 Ideas  


On June 22, 2018, Parents as Teachers National Center had their virtual child development screening project selected as one of the Early Childhood Innovation Prize’s “Top Ideas” and will share in $1 million in prize funding from Gary Community Investments. The project was chosen from more than 570 submissions in 100 countries because of its potential to create breakthrough impact for children and families during their first three years of life.

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The prize will fund a collaborative project between Parents as Teachers National Center and the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work and Telehealth Clinic to pilot the use of interactive video conferencing to conduct developmental screenings for children. This effort will increase parents’ access to child screenings, inform virtual screening best practices, and produce supports for professionals from various sectors.

“We see virtual service delivery to families as a catyalyst, fundamentally transforming the number of families who will access support services,” said Dorian Traube, Associate Professor at USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work, and Director of Parents as Teachers at USC Telehealth. “When ready to bring to scale, professionals focused on delivering high quality services to children and families will be influenced including: early intervention, child welfare, and the military.”

 Angela Rau

Angela Rau

“This innovation will benefit the children that are least likely to receive reliable screenings due to family-level barriers and an underdeveloped early childhood workforce. This project’s sole aim is to provide hard-to-reach children with developmental screening, early and on-time,” says Angela Rau, Virtual Parent Education Specialist. “In Los Angeles alone, 40 percent of parents with children under age six have concerns about their child’s development. Parental concern is widespread, but access to supports is not always equally available. Virtual screening is a new way to address their concerns and provide help.” 

Parents as Teachers is the developer of the most widely replicated evidence-based home visiting model in the world, and USC School of Social Work and Telehealth clinic operates the largest online school of social work in the United States providing evidenced-based interventions through a telehealth clinic.

You can learn more about the Parents as Teachers virtual child development screening idea, Parents as Teachers@USC  Early Childhood Innovation Prize’s “Top Ideas”, OpenIDEO prize platform and Gary Community Investments through each link.

New Research Shows Parents as Teachers Home Visiting Model Significantly Reduces Child Abuse and Neglect

New research published this month in Child Abuse & Neglect, The International Journal found that the Parents as Teachers® evidence-based home visiting model demonstrates a significant decrease in cases of child maltreatment when home visiting services are delivered through a scaled-up, statewide home visiting program.

The research represents one of the largest studies in the U.S. conducted to investigate the impact of home visiting on child maltreatment, including nearly 8,000 families. Researchers found a 22% decreased likelihood of substantiated cases of child maltreatment as reported by Child Protective Services data when comparing two groups of children born to first-time mothers. Children whose mothers received home visiting were compared to children whose mothers where eligible for home visiting but did not receive the services.

“Parents as Teachers is a family-centered, results-driven approach in our department’s portfolio of programs to support young children and families, particularly those who are overburdened and underserved. A 22% reduction in child abuse cases is a measurable result that proves PAT materially improves lives while also generating cost savings for our state. We’re excited that this new research suggests we should see PAT providers be rewarded for future successes through our newly released ‘rate card’ that pays home visiting providers for outcomes. We support thescaling of high quality services based on evidence and measurable results,” said David Wilkinson, Commissioner of the Connecticut Office of Early Childhood.

Dr. Barbara Chaiyachati, principal investigator on the study, formerly at Yale School of Medicine and current pediatrics resident at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, noted that, “Safe, stable nurturing relationships and environments are essential to prevent child abuse and neglect. This study provides promise that large-scale home visiting programs may be able to prevent child maltreatment, yet more studies are needed to confirm and clarify these findings."

“This study is an important demonstration of the results that can be generated from large-scale implementation of the Parents as Teachers home visiting model. It helps create a clearer picture for communities about which programs work best to build positive interactions between parents and infants and young children,” said Allison Kemner, Vice President of Research and Quality at Parents as Teachers National Center. “Parents as Teachers can stop abuse and neglect before it occurs,” said Kemner.

“Parents as Teachers is designed to work closely with families through a trusting relationship with a trained professional to address critical parenting issues and behaviors that promote protective factors or the conditions that reduce or eliminate risk and promote healthy development and well-being of children,” said Constance Gully, President and CEO of Parents as Teachers National Center. “Our families are dealing with a lot of stressors, including high rates of poverty, maternal depression, opioid abuse, and teen parenting. We are truly humbled that this new research confirms that our home visiting model has such a significant impact on supporting families and children being healthy, safe and ready to learn.”

"As home visiting programs go to scale, states should consider replicating this study using their administrative data and appropriate statistical methods to create a robust comparison group capable of generating rigorous findings regarding the effects of early intervention efforts on child maltreatment rates," said Dr. Deborah Daro, Senior Research Fellow at Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago.

Other investigators were John M. Leventhal, MD, Professor of Pediatrics, Yale School of Medicine; Julie R. Gaither, PhD, Instructor of Pediatrics, Yale School of Medicine; Marcia Hughes, PhD, Research & Evaluation Analyst, Center for Social Research, University of Hartford; and Karen Foley-Schain, MA, MEd, LLC, former Director of the Nurturing Families Network in Connecticut. This study was done in collaboration with two state agencies in Connecticut: the Office of Early Childhood and the Department of Children and Families.

Jennifer Garner and Parents as Teachers on Capitol Hill

Mackenzie Grayson, former Parents as Teachers participant mom, and now Parents as Teachers Program Supervisor participated on a panel with Jennifer Garner to discuss how evidence-based home visiting and the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV) helps families thrive!

Joining them were Jessica Nugent, Parents as Teachers State Leader from Prevent Child Abuse New Jersey and Laurel Aparicio, ASTHVI Steering Committee member and director of Early Impact at the Virginia HV Consortium, and Amanda Packman Nurse Family Partnership mom and NYC Outreach Worker. The panel highlighted the success of MIECHV to the U.S. Senate Finance Committee and key Hill staff. Jennifer Garner has been a vocal supporter of home visiting with Save the Children.

Parents as Teachers Parent Educator Receives the Jean and Mary Roy Scholarship

Noelia Alvarez chosen for the 2017 Jean and Mary Roy Scholarship

Noelia Alvarez, Parent Educator for the Latino Community Development Agency in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, was chosen to receive the Jean and Mary Roy Scholarship November 2017. This scholarship provides conference registration and travel expenses to the Parents as Teachers annual international conference for a parent educator from Oklahoma. The scholarship is provided by Steve Roy and Angela Rau, in memory of their parents Jean and Mary Roy, who were both active community advocates.

The annual conference gives attendees the opportunity to spend time with other parent educators, home visitors, community advocates and early childhood educators. They learn from various workshops, keynote speakers and one another, and can return home and use that new knowledge and inspiration to keep their Parents as Teachers programs going strong in their communities.

“She is a dedicated servant helping more than 20 families a month,” states Steven Roy of Alvarez. “We are proud to help her with her desire to participate in the Parents as Teachers national conference.”

The OKC Latino Agency Parents as Teachers group currently serves 103 families and has a waiting list of over 20 families. Funding cuts by the State of Oklahoma have forced them to downsize their participation rate. Roy also stated, “We hope to do more for their efforts in the future. We will challenge local, state and national companies to help agencies like this one who are providing successful and impactful programs, by supporting the Parents as Teachers National program.”

The theme of the conference was Making Connections Matter. “Connections started as soon as you entered the conference,” states Alvarez. Workshops attended focused on ways to partner with parents and also with the resources in their community.

Latino Community Development Agency was established in 1991 as a program of Neighborhood Services Organization. The LCDA came from a proposal of the Neighborhood Services Organization and the Community Council of Central Oklahoma’s joint proposal to the United Way. It was meant to address the needs of the Latino community in Oklahoma County. Future goals include expanding their signature services to clients based in all areas of the city as well as the state. A diversified board of directors oversees the agency operations and several committees assist in the areas of education, economic development, health, mental health and substance abuse prevention, along with communications, development and personnel.

 Noelia Alvarez in front of Philadelphia City Hall

Noelia Alvarez in front of Philadelphia City Hall

 Poster Session at Conference 2017

Poster Session at Conference 2017

 Closing General Session Luncheon

Closing General Session Luncheon

BJC HealthCare donates $100K to Parents as Teachers

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Parents as Teachers® National Center, headquarters of the evidence-based home visiting model, has announced a gift of $100,000 from BJC HealthCare to establish the Susan and Steven Lipstein Show Me Strong Families Fund. The gift was announced in December at BJC HealthCare’s Annual Meeting.

BJC HealthCare made the gift to Parents as Teachers on behalf of Susan and Steven Lipstein to honor Mr. Lipstein’s retirement as Chief Executive Officer of BJC HealthCare and to honor Mrs. Lipstein’s service as a certified Parents as Teachers Parent Educator in the Clayton School District. The gift will establish a fund in perpetuity to improve the health, academic achievement, and overall well-being of children in St. Louis, whose lives are impacted by economic uncertainty and other stressors.

“We’re honored to continuously partner with BJC HealthCare and Susan and Steven Lipstein. We deeply appreciate the commitment of BJC HealthCare to help families thrive,” said Constance Gully, president and CEO of Parents as Teachers National Center.

The Parents as Teachers program is particularly dear to both Steven and Susan. “Home visiting has equipped so many families with critical resources that have allowed them to be successful parents,” Steven Lipstein said. “Susan and I have always believed that when we support parents, they are better able to raise healthy children who are ready and prepared to learn.”

“This investment in Parents as Teachers will establish a fund to further support the Show Me Strong Families PAT affliate that is already transforming the lives of families in some of St. Louis’ most economically distressed neighborhoods,” said June McAllister Fowler, Senior Vice President of Communications, Marketing and Public Affairs at BJC HealthCare.

Each year, Show Me Strong Families:

  • Reaches 225 families with monthly home visits, including 150 teen parent families;
  • Screens 600 children for health and developmental delays so that they can be connected early with vital support services in the community; and
  • Engages 240 parents in “group connections” – organized sessions where parents come together to learn about child well-being and form a peer support network.

Numerous research studies show that the Parents as Teachers evidence-based home visiting model improves school readiness, reduces child maltreatment, and enhances parenting skills and parent involvement that leads to better family health and functioning.

“I feel so fortunate to be part of a cause that is proven by research to increase outcomes for families,”  Susan Lipstein said. “I’ve seen Parents as Teachers work firsthand. There are few programs that have such an immediate and lasting impact on the lives of children.

Read related articles:

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St. Louis Business Journal

The First, and Most Important, Classroom is the Kitchen Table

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We recently participated in Mediaplanet’s Early Education campaign where we united with likeminded industry leaders to highlight the new tools and technologies that are helping children stay ahead of the learning curve while emphasizing how important the pre-K years are to children’s continued success. The campaign was distributed through USA TODAY on December 22nd, 2017 and is published online. Click here for the Parents as Teachers article.

For the full campaign, visit: http://bit.ly/22yt8RC