Parents as Teachers Awards Blue Ribbon to 87 Affiliates

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Parents as Teachers National Center is thrilled to award 87 affiliates the Blue Ribbon designation! These affiliates met all of the Essential Requirements, along with at least 75% of the Quality Standards through completion of the Quality Endorsement and Improvement Process. The commitment these affiliates demonstrate to providing high quality services to families is inspiring and impactful. Congratulations to all of the awardees!   

Awarded 2018

  • Kids' Corp Inc. (AK)

  • Family Guidance Center of Alabama First Teacher Home Visiting Program (AL)

  • PACT Parents and Children Together (AL)

  • Marana Unified School District/MUSD Parents As Teachers Program (AZ)

  • Arizona Partnership for Children Parents as Teachers (AZ)

  • Tuba City Boarding School BabyFACE Program (AZ)

  • Casa De Los Niños Inc. (AZ)

  • Easterseals Blake Foundation-Southeast Arizona (AZ)

  • CPLC Parenting Arizona (AZ)

  • Boulder County Parents as Teachers (CO)

  • Berthoud & Fort Collins PAT-The Family Center/ La Familia (CO)

  • Family Development Center Newborn Network PAT (CO)

  • Focus Points Family Resource Center – PAT (CO)

  • Fox Run School Family Resource Center Parents as Teachers/Norwalk Public Schools (CT)

  • East Shore District Health Department (CT)

  • Hartford Nurturing Families Network (CT)

  • Parents as Teachers of Catoosa County (GA)

  • Butts County Family Enrichment Center (GA)

  • Prevent Child Abuse Pickens (GA)

  • Families First (GA)

  • Building Healthy Families - PAT/Child Abuse Prevention Services (IA)

  • First Taste Program/ISBE Early Childhood Block Grant (IL)

  • Todd Early Childhood Center/West Aurora School District 129 (IL)

  • North Greene Unit District #3 Bright Futures PAT (IL)

  • Triad Foundation for Success - PAT (IL)

  • Unity Point Family Circle Parents as Teachers (IL)

  • Riley Early Childhood Center-P.A.T./Harvey School District 152 (IL)

  • Jump Start, Easter Seals Joliet Region (IL)

  • Bureau Henry Stark Regional Office of Education (IL)

  • Madison County Unit School District #12/ Parents as Teachers (IL)

  • Smart Talk Parental Support Program/West Harvey-Dixmoor School District #147 (IL)

  • ECHO Family Enrichment Program (IL)

  • Transitions of Western Illinois Parents as Teachers (IL)

  • Jersey CUSD #100 Growing Together (IL)

  • Roseland-Atlgeld Adolescent Parent Program/Catholic Charities of the Archdioceses of Chicago (IL)

  • Family Focus Nuestra Familia (IL)

  • Parents as Teachers First Years (IL)

  • ROE #3 Learning Express Parents as Teachers (IL)

  • District 41 Baby & Me Prevention Initiative (IL)

  • Project CARES Prevention Initiative/Wabash Community School District 348 (IL)

  • Macon Resources, Inc./Bright Start (IL)

  • Abilities Plus/TIPS Program (IL)

  • True to Life Foundation/Chicago Public Schools (IL)

  • Topeka Public Schools Parents as Teachers (KS)

  • Marion County Parents as Teachers (KS)

  • Branch Intermediate School District (MI)

  • Malden R-1 School District Consolidation (MO)

  • Imprints Cares (NC)

  • Hoke County Parents as Teachers (NC)

  • Partnership for Children of Wayne County (NC)

  • Rockingham County Partnership for Children (NC)

  • Somerset County Parents as Teachers (NJ)

  • Bethany Public Schools Parents as Teachers (OK)

  • Oklahoma City Public Schools Parents as Teachers Program (OK)

  • Lancaster Family Center-P.A.T./Community Action Program of Lancaster County (PA)

  • Salisbury Area Family Center - PAT/Salisbury- Elk Lick School District (PA)

  • Coatesville Family Resource Center PAT/Community, Youth & Women's Alliance (CYWA) (PA)

  • Infant Development Program (PA)

  • Community Services of Venango County/PAT (PA)

  • Westerly Public Schools MIECHV PAT (RI)

  • Connecting for Children and Families (RI)

  • Newberry Family Literacy Program (SC)

  • Children and Parents Sharing - C.A.P.S./Bamberg School District One (SC)

  • Florence School District One/Family Literacy Program (SC)

  • Marlboro County School District- Parents as Teachers (SC)

  • Starfish / Family Cornerstones, Inc. (TN)

  • Knox County Schools Parents as Teachers (TN)

  • Healthier Beginnings Parents as First Teachers (TN)

  • Lumin Education Parents As Teachers/ Lumin East Dallas Community Schools (TX)

  • Schulenburg/Weimar Area Parents As Teachers (TX)

  • Family Compass Growing as Parents (TX)

  • Bachman Lake Community School (TX)

  • Amarillo Independent School District/Parents as Teachers (TX)

  • Northwest Independent School District Family Involvement Program/Parents as Teachers (TX)

  • Family Outreach of East Dallas (TX)

  • Family Care Connection Parents as Teachers Program (TX)

  • The Learning Center for Families (UT)

  • Housing Opportunities, Inc. (UT)

  • Prevent Child Abuse Utah/CBCAP - DCES Utah (UT)

  • St. James Family Center - Parents as Teachers (WA)

  • First Step Family Support Center (WA)

  • Family & Childcare Resources of Northeast Wisconsin (WI)

  • Howe Community Resource Center Parents as Teachers (WI)

  • Rainelle Medical Center (WV)

  • Preston County Caring Council, Inc./Preston-Taylor Parents as Teachers (WV)

  • The Community Crossing (WV)

  • Cornerstone Family Interventions, Inc. (WV)

Parents as Teachers 2018 international conference surpasses all previous attendance records

More than 1,300 propel symposium to top figures at Arizona resort

The 2018 Parents as Teachers International Conference, held Oct. 8 – 11, surpassed all previously held attendance records, with more than 1,300 early child development professionals converging on the beautiful and spacious Arizona Grand Resort & Spa in Phoenix for the four day symposium.

Parents as Teachers President and CEO Constance Gully said the conferences continue to garner broad appeal from leading professionals committed to early child development, safety, health and well-being of children and families. She said this year’s turnout attest to the willingness of so many to help improve the lives of our most vulnerable children and families.

This year’s conference offered 80 workshops focusing on: diversity, equity, and inclusion; exploring new data-driven practices; working with families facing addictions; building stronger brains; valuing the role of dad; cultural competency in home visiting; engaging Latino families; as always, conversations about federal and state advocacy efforts.

“Our primary objective is to provide a forum for professional development, camaraderie, and educational enrichment,” said Gully, adding, “everywhere you went throughout the resort grounds, you saw people going in and out of workshops, panel discussions and focus groups, visiting the exhibit emporium and enjoying the great networking.”

Parents as Teachers conferences bring together non-profit, private and public leaders to collaborate, learn, build and nurture relationships. Gully said the YOUnited theme served as a springboard for Parents as Teachers professionals and others to explore effective ways to elevate the early childhood education home visiting field.

The conference’s success is directly linked to the sponsors and supporters committed to expanding the impact of home visiting on families and communities. “None of this would be possible without their ongoing financial support,” Gully said.

For three consecutive years, Centene Corp. has been the banner sponsor. Other major supporters included: W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Edward Jones, Bezos Family Foundation, Athena, R-B-O Logistix, Moneta Group, Jean & Mary Roy Family Foundation, and Twiga Foundation.

“And I’d like to personally thank our board chair emeritus Dave Morley and his wife, Cheryl, for their underwriting support, and our current board chair Patricia Kempthorne for her leadership and support.”

The conference was highlighted by several awards ceremonies. There were 75 Milestone recipients. Arizona State Sen. Kate Brophy-McGee received the coveted Jack Tweedie Human Services and Early Learning Award. The Child and Family Resources, Building Bright Futures PAT Home Visitation Programs received the Losos Award for Excellence. The Parenting Center of Lexington One, Lexington, SC, received the Losos Award for Innovation.

Parent Educator of the Year awards were given to Maria Arroyo, Parenting Center of Lexington One, Lexington, SC; Cindy Boger, Parents as Teachers of Catawba County Hickory Public Schools, Hickory, NC; and Kristina Gorshe, Catholic Charities Diocese of Pueblo, Pueblo, CO. One hundred Blue Ribbon Affiliates were recognized for delivering the highest quality of services to children and families.

 Arizona State Sen. Kate Brophy-McGee (center) accepts the Jack Tweedie Human Services and Early Learning Award from Patricia Kempthorne, (left) board chair of Parents as Teachers National Center; and Constance Gully, PAT President, and CEO, during the annual international conference at the Arizona Grand Resort & Spa.  Photos by Harley Bonham.

Arizona State Sen. Kate Brophy-McGee (center) accepts the Jack Tweedie Human Services and Early Learning Award from Patricia Kempthorne, (left) board chair of Parents as Teachers National Center; and Constance Gully, PAT President, and CEO, during the annual international conference at the Arizona Grand Resort & Spa.

Photos by Harley Bonham.

 Winners of the Parent Educator of Year awards pose with PAT board members and staff at the 2018 international conference in Phoenix, AZ. From left are: P.J. West, board member; Patricia Kempthorne, board chair; Constance Gully, president/CEO; Parent Educator of the Year recipients Maria Arroyo, The Parenting Center of Lexington, SC; Kristina Gorshe, Catholic Charities Diocese of Pueblo, Pueblo, CO; Cindy Boger, Parents as Teachers of Catawba County Hickory Public Schools, Hickory, NC; Kerry Caverly, VP, program and implementation support; and board members Renee Welch and Francis Vigil.

Winners of the Parent Educator of Year awards pose with PAT board members and staff at the 2018 international conference in Phoenix, AZ. From left are: P.J. West, board member; Patricia Kempthorne, board chair; Constance Gully, president/CEO; Parent Educator of the Year recipients Maria Arroyo, The Parenting Center of Lexington, SC; Kristina Gorshe, Catholic Charities Diocese of Pueblo, Pueblo, CO; Cindy Boger, Parents as Teachers of Catawba County Hickory Public Schools, Hickory, NC; Kerry Caverly, VP, program and implementation support; and board members Renee Welch and Francis Vigil.

 Representatives from the Parenting Center of Lexington One, Lexington, SC, received the Losos Award for Innovation during the 2018 International Conference at the Arizona Grand Resort & Spa. Photo by Harley Bonham.

Representatives from the Parenting Center of Lexington One, Lexington, SC, received the Losos Award for Innovation during the 2018 International Conference at the Arizona Grand Resort & Spa. Photo by Harley Bonham.

 Representatives from the Arizona-based The Child and Family Resources, Building Bright Futures PAT Home Visitation Programs gather on stage to receive the Losos Award for Excellence. At right is PAT Board Director Francis Rushton.

Representatives from the Arizona-based The Child and Family Resources, Building Bright Futures PAT Home Visitation Programs gather on stage to receive the Losos Award for Excellence. At right is PAT Board Director Francis Rushton.

Supporters of Parents as Teachers establish a scholarship fund to commemorate parents and support cancer causes

Brother, sister team finances parent educators’ trip to Parents as Teachers National Center conferences

Oklahoma City, OK – Oct. 31, 2018 – Siblings Angela Rau and Steve Roy were raised to be socially-conscious. Their reverence for the less fortunate was influenced by the untimely death of their mother, Mary Roy (nee Corff) at age 24, and the ideals of community engagement that was subsequently reinforced in them by their grandparents and father.

Angela was only three, and Steve was eight months old when their mother died. Their father, Jean, with help from family and friends, raised them as a single father until he remarried to Shirley. Together, they had three children Christy, Edward, and Timothy. Unexpectedly, cancer struck the family again, taking Jean Roy at age 49, while he was still raising young children.

Parents’ Legacy

Now, adults, Angela and Steve have established the Jean and Mary Roy Family Scholarship of Oklahoma to support victims of cancer and groups like Parents as Teachers (PAT), an internationally-recognized early childhood development organization. PAT is an evidence-based home visiting model that promotes the optimal early development, learning and health of young children by supporting and engaging their parents and caregivers – their first teachers.

“We believe that our parents would have greatly benefited from Parents as Teachers,” Angela said, adding, “there are many circumstances that parents find themselves facing, while parenting. Having Parents as Teachers available to Oklahoma families is critical for families, parents and children.”

PAT impacts the well-being and school readiness of nearly 200,000 families and young children annually, in thousands of communities in all 50 states. The majority of families served have one or more risk factors.

Community Engagement

For the past two years, the Jean and Mary Roy Family Scholarship has provided financial support for PAT parent educators to attend annual conferences. Parent educators make personal home visits and help families with parental/child interactive skills.

This year’s scholarship recipients are Marina Montoya-Zorrilla, a 16-year PAT parent educator, who received the 2017 Outstanding Home Visitor Award from the Office of Child Abuse Prevention; and Consuelo Rozo, an eight-year PAT veteran. The two work out of the Latino Community Development Agency (LCDA), a PAT affiliate that provides services to families in south Oklahoma City. They attended PAT’s annual conference in Phoenix, AZ earlier this month.

  During a get acquainted breakfast at the Arizona Grand Resort and Spa, where the 2018 Parents as Teachers International Conference was held, from left, Steve Roy, Marina Montoya-Zorrilla, Consuelo Rozo (recipients of the Jean and Mary Roy Family Scholarship), Angela Rau and Becky Moss share a moment.

During a get acquainted breakfast at the Arizona Grand Resort and Spa, where the 2018 Parents as Teachers International Conference was held, from left, Steve Roy, Marina Montoya-Zorrilla, Consuelo Rozo (recipients of the Jean and Mary Roy Family Scholarship), Angela Rau and Becky Moss share a moment.

“Marina and Consuelo have been providing home-based services the longest, and were chosen because of their long-time commitment to PAT,” said Patty DeMoraes-Huffine, director of Prevention Programs at LCDA.

LCDA administers the scholarship on behalf of PAT because it is a Blue Ribbon Affiliate, which means it is among the highest quality members of the PAT home visitation and parent education field.

“We just felt that those parent educators could benefit from the professional development and comradery they would receive at the conference. They would learn new best practices that they could share with the families they serve,” Angela said with Steve adding, “We feel like supporting programs that are effective is a wise community investment.”

Philanthropic Commitment

Steve said their family’s philanthropy is based on the conviction that a healthy, educated and community-minded society is essential to a healthy democracy. As entrepreneurs, Steve, along with Angela, own and operate an Oklahoma City industrial park on property passed through their family since the 1889 land run. Businesses surrounding or on the Corff Partnership LTD property at SE 29th street include: Balon, Cameron, Mid West Hose, M & M Supply, DXP Enterprises and TURNCO.

The two siblings are working to forge collaborative relationships with other private entities and government organizations in and around Oklahoma City. And as state and national public monies for social services programs continue to dwindle, Steve said it’s even more crucial that private organizations help provide other funding sources for public institutions.

“As a private organization, we are trying to connect with our business colleagues to establish relationships and give them a platform for their philanthropic objectives,” he said, adding, “Private funds have a direct impact on organizations without being filtered through government agencies. It’s far more important that we have the impact that dollar-for-dollar can deliver. We invest in non-profits that are doing the most, and where we can see a direct return on our money.”

As a volunteer with the American Cancer Society’s Coaches vs Cancer community outreach initiative, Steve also helps raise money to support families and victims of cancer, an undertaking that he relishes.

“It just makes you feel good when you see the smiling faces of kids and parents that you’ve been fortunate enough to help,” he said. “That makes it all worthwhile.”

Support for Parents as Teachers

Becky Moss, PAT chief development officer, echoes the sibling’s sentiments and is working with organizations and foundations to secure financial support to help PAT advance its mission.

“We are always looking to secure financial support that will help us continue developing evidence-based curriculums, conduct program evaluations, provide technical assistance, advocate for pro-family policies and train parent educators, all for the purpose of strengthening children and families,” Moss said.

For more information on giving opportunities, contact Becky Moss at 314-432-4330 ext. 1283 or by email at Becky.Moss@ParentsAsTeachers.org.

Statement on Pittsburgh Synagogue Massacre From Parents as Teachers President/CEO Constance Gully

On behalf of Parents as Teachers, our thoughts and prayers go out to the 11 worshippers killed and others wounded during the Jewish Sabbath at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh this past weekend. The Saturday massacre has rattled the faith community and all peace-loving people across the world. As we come to grips with the largest act of domestic terrorism perpetrated on people of Jewish faith on American soil, we categorically denounce anti-Semitism and all forms of racial and gender bias, and vehemently condemn these acts of violence.

As families and communities look for answers, many will seek support. Prolonged exposure and news about mass shootings can cause heightened stress, and have detrimental short- and long-term developmental and health effects on young children. Parents as Teachers is committed to working with parents and other supportive adults to help mitigate stress. We have put together some helpful tips for parents to better communicate with their children during these tumultuous times. As we continue our work to strengthen children and families, we keep the victims and the city of Pittsburgh in our thoughts and prayers.

 
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PATNC Opposes Proposed "Public Charge" Rule

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The Administration formally proposed sweeping regulations this morning that endanger the lives of immigrant families, including families with children born in the United States. The “public charge” regulation threatens to worsen hunger, poverty, and unmet health and housing needs. The proposal would make—and has already made—immigrant families afraid to seek programs that support basic needs. With about one in four children having at least one immigrant parent, this issue touches millions and is critical. As an organization that promotes the health, safety, and well-being of families with young children, Parents as Teachers National Center strongly opposes this proposed rule. The comment period is open for 60 days; we encourage you to submit comments opposing it online at www.protectingimmigrantfamilies.org.

Parents as Teachers launches Women’s Partnership Network to deepen community engagement

  Ellicia Lanier, (standing) an associate professor at St. Louis Community College at Florissant Valley, addresses Parents as Teachers inaugural meeting of the Professional Women’s Engagement Café as part of PAT’s Women’s Partnership Network.

Ellicia Lanier, (standing) an associate professor at St. Louis Community College at Florissant Valley, addresses Parents as Teachers inaugural meeting of the Professional Women’s Engagement Café as part of PAT’s Women’s Partnership Network.

Professional women meet to share life’s experiences with young moms

In efforts to deepen its community engagement in St. Louis and beyond, Parents as Teachers, a non-profit, internationally-recognized leader in the early childhood development home visiting field, has launched a Women’s Partnership Network comprised of local influential, professional women.

The organization recently held a “Professional Women’s Engagement Café” at its headquarters here to introduce the network. One Thursday evening, Parents as Teachers brought together 18 professional women and several young mothers who receive Parents as Teachers services via its Show Me Strong Families community outreach program. They gathered to participate in a life sharing exercise to explore their paths toward success and the challenges of motherhood, respectively.

“We created this network and subsequent event as an opportunity to have a positive effect on the lives of young mothers served by our organization, and to illustrate the collective impact Parents as Teachers and these accomplished women can have on enriching the lives of people living in underserved communities,” said Constance Gully, Parents as Teachers president and chief executive officer. Gully opened the event with a welcome.

Parents as Teachers board member and Build-A-Bear Workshop Founder Maxine Clark, along with City of St. Louis Treasurer Tishaura Jones, Dr. Sharonica Hardin-Bartley, superintendent of the University City School District, Jessica Adams, executive director of the St. Louis Area Diaper Bank, and Jackie Hamilton, chief development officer with Beyond Housing, were among the invited guests.

“I loved every minute of it,” remarked Clark. Adams echoed her sentiments, saying, “What a great idea and so well executed. It was really more of a group sharing session than us sharing with them (young mothers), which I absolutely loved.”

Also present were Rhonda Adams, corporate diversity lead for Illinois Water; Rebecca Fritsch, vice president/Commercial Relationship Manager at Monsanto Corp., and Sylvia Jackson, executive director of the Women’s Safe House, just to name a few.

About 20 local mothers came with their children. The kids enjoyed pizza and games under the watchful eye of Parents as Teachers childcare providers. The adults feasted on a catered dinner followed by roundtable discussions. Each woman answered prepared questions ranging from “Why is it important to further your education”, to, “how do you balance work and personal life”, to, “do you have tips for accomplishing goals?”

A poignant moment in the program came when Ellicia Lanier, associate professor at St. Louis Community College at Florissant Valley, stood and delivered a somewhat raw and moving account of her years as a teen. The feeling in the room was palpable, as all listened intently.

Ellicia, now 37, told how as a 17-year-old pregnant teen she found refuge in the Missouri Baptist Children’s Home in Bridgeton, MO., where she stayed until meeting a Parents as Teachers parent educator who would change her life forever.

Parent educators are trained in Parents as Teachers early childhood development home visiting model. They make personal home visits and help new mothers with parenting skills, among other services. Ellicia’s parent educator helped her set family goals around earning a GED.

She would eventually give birth, earn a college degree, and start her own business - Urban Sprouts Child Development Center in University City. Her triumphant story galvanized the group and brought the audience to its feet in applause. The evening concluded with each participant receiving parting gifts and the assurance that similar events would be staged in the future.

Becky Moss, chief development officer for Parents as Teachers, who spearheaded the event, said, “Our goal was to create a forum for women from diverse backgrounds to share experiences and learn from each other. This exercise, along with other outreach efforts, will help us expand our community involvement and bring together people and resources to help empower families.”

If you would like to learn more about the Women’s Partnership Network, contact Becky Moss at 314-432-4330 ext. 1283 or by email at Becky.Moss@ParentsAsTeachers.org.

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.