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.
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 herself homeless after being expelled from her aunt’s home, where she once lived. She recalled how 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.
Its group connection tools strengthen family engagement
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.
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.
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.”
The National Institute of Health has given a $3.3 million grant to Washington University to conduct a study on obesity among young mothers. The university will partner with Parents as Teachers for the study.
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.
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.
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.”
“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.
Article by The Chronicle of Social Change on recent study that adds more evidence that home visiting can lower the likelihood of maltreatment.
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.
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.