Building Parents as Teachers and Healthcare Partnerships in Springfield, Missouri – Early Findings and Implementation 

Parents as Teachers received funding for the Healthy Tomorrows program with a goal of improving partnerships between Parents as Teachers and health systems. It was important that the Healthy Tomorrows team understood what key stakeholders thought about effectively integrating Parents as Teachers programs.

Findings from the Focus Groups

Who participated?

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Health care administration and providers, members of the school district, and other interested parties such as local foundations and health departments.

What were they asked?

Focus group participants were asked about their background with Parents as Teachers, the populations they serve, current partnerships and collaboration, their plan to integrate Parents as Teachers into health care systems in Springfield, current data collection and what additional data may be desired.

What did they say about Springfield?

Springfield is a collaborative community and group members described partnerships that included:

  • The school district and mental health providers working together to improve access for families.

  • The Ronald McDonald House dental health program working with local area dentists and schools.

  • The healthy alliance including hospitals and the local health department.

Families in Springfield have limited access to health and dental care with especially limited access to mental health services.

How can PAT work with the health care industry?

Some participants of the focus group saw Parents as Teachers as an opportunity to provide additional screening where others saw how the system would allow for patient referrals to Parents as Teachers Parent Educators (PE), where PE’s would have an opportunity to share information and communicate regularly about their shared client families.

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Integrating Parents as Teachers into the health care industry would make it easier for health providers to follow up on their referrals, help with smooth patient handoffs from nurse to parent educator, and increase the ability of Parents as Teachers for early parent outreach.

Participants felt there was an opportunity to collect additional data, such as kindergarten readiness measures, desired outcomes (reduced child abuse and neglect), change in child growth and development, and the effectiveness of current partnerships.

By providing educational campaigns within health facilities, Parents as Teachers will show how parent educators can work effectively within the health system. The focus group determined those educational campaigns could provide training on understanding medical jargon and regulations such as HIPAA.