SHOW ME STRONG FAMILIES
Every day, our families face unimaginable stresses and challenges. These parents and caregivers demonstrate resilience, a commitment to their children’s welfare, a passion for being the best parents, and a love without compare. Our remarkable parent educators walk alongside them as partners every step of the way.
The Show Me Strong Families team of dedicated staff meet these families where they are: in the home, at the library, in the park, at the Early Childhood Center or wherever the family is most comfortable. Our families, and our parent educators and staff, do whatever is needed to ensure success.
Through Show Me Strong Families, the Parents as Teachers National Center provides evidence-based home visiting services to vulnerable families in Normandy, north St. Louis County, St. Louis City, and the Bootheel region of Missouri. Many of these moms and dads are teens. This community impact initiative has partnered with 369 families with 468 children, conducting 4,820 (twice-monthly) personal visits, 276 group meetings, 750 developmental screenings, and 1,095 resource referrals to community agencies. Our fatherhood groups have successfully engaged more than 100 fathers in Manhood Mondays, Donuts With Dad, basketball tournaments, and other group activities where they can learn and share with each other as they bond with their children.
WHAT IS THE NEED
The Show Me Strong Families project supports families in parts of Missouri where young children’s development can be compromised by poverty and family risk factors. In Normandy, 54 percent of the children from birth to age four live in poverty, and in Jennings 59 percent live in poverty. This is more than double the average rate for Missouri of 26 percent (1). In Missouri, 35 percent of children live in single-parent households, but that figure is 61 percent in St. Louis City. Also, in St. Louis City, the teen birth rate (36 per 1,000) is one and one-half times higher than the national average (22 per 1,000). Approximately 5,000 teen mothers in St. Louis become new parents every year. Teen parents confront many challenges that make it more difficult for their children to succeed, such as higher rates of depression, histories of surviving abuse, and social isolation.
Together, these risk factors affect children’s likelihood of success: In St. Louis City, the high-school drop-out rate is five times what it is for Missouri (11 percent compared to 3 percent) and the rate of juvenile law violations is far higher (43 per 1,000 in St. Louis City compared to 30 for Missouri). (2)
1 U.S. Census Bureau, American Fact Finder (2014). Available at http://factfinder.census.gov/faces/nav/jsf/pages/community_facts.xhtml#
2 Missouri Kids Count (2015). County Indicator Pages. Available at http://missourikidscountdata.org/counties.php
WHAT THE PROGRAM ACCOMPLISHES
Show Me Strong Families accomplishes its aims by delivering the four-pronged Parents as Teachers home visit model to vulnerable families in the target area, with an emphasis on partnering, facilitating and reflecting with the families. The Parents as Teachers model includes personal visits led by a trained parent educator, child health and development screenings, group connections for parents, and a resource and referral network that families use to help them meet the goals they have set with their parent educator.
Group connections are especially important for the families in the target area because they give single, teen or stressed parents – who may be socially isolated – the chance to build a support network with other families in their community. Gathering as a group helps families develop friendships, form new support networks, share common experiences, and discover new ideas for addressing the day-to-day challenges of parenting. Group connections are led by parent educators and are typically held at locations such as maternity shelters, community libraries, and partnering community-based agencies.
The meetings are held year-round, two to three times per month across the service area. Each meeting lasts an hour and a half and has a topical focus. Group connections are also an important way to recruit new families who may be initially hesitant about home visits. Typically, 25 percent of parents that attend group connections are not enrolled in home visits with a parent educator and of those, 75 percent choose decide to enroll in Parents as Teachers.