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Program offers family assistance

By Staff | Apr 8, 2015

Christina Davis, Kim Eagleson, Jennifer Negie

A state-funded program for families is making an impact on local families, helping them realize the vital importance of taking all opportunities to teach our children.

Parents as Teachers is a state-funded in-home visit program for families. The group works with mothers who are expecting, along with families with children from newborn to the age of five. It’s not income-based and it is open to the general public. The concept of helping parents embrace their important role as their child’s first and best teacher was pioneered in Missouri in 1981. The concept was developed in the 1970’s when Missouri educators noticed children were beginning kindergarten with varying levels of school readiness. Research showed that greater parent involvement is a critical link in this child’s development of learning skills involving reading and writing. Some of the things focused on are developmental screening, parent education, and school readiness skills.

Home visits are conducted twice a month and locally, Jennifer Negie and Christina Davis are the home visitors for the program for Tyler County and Kim Eagleson is the home visitor for Wetzel County. Marsha Croasmun supervises the Tyler/Wetzel program.

Jennifer Negie said, “One of the things we emphasize is the fact that parents are the first teachers children have, so we want to focus on helping the parents help their children be ready even before they attend school. We also assist in the pregnancy phase, they can join when they find out they’re pregnant.”

All home visitors have specialized training in the curriculum, meaning that “Parents as Teachers” operated is researched based. The curriculum focuses on three main components which are parent-child interaction, developmental components and family well being.

Each visit starts with an activity with strong encouragement of parent interactivity with children focusing on different developmental areas.

After the activities are completed, handouts are given out to the families, and if they have any questions, they are free to contact their home visitor. Family well being involves budget planning, nutrition planning, car seat safety and parents can input what is put into the plan if they have specific concerns. They also offer information in the curriculum that focus on families that are separated or divorced they are able to bring into the homes.

Each week, Parents as Teachers hold what they call a “play group” and this is where children and parents interact with others in a group setting. Even though this is an activity that is a part of the Parents as Teachers program, it is not a requirement to attend. Parents and children who are not involved with the program are invited to attend play group. Play group is held on Fridays at 10 a.m. in the Wetzel County Center for Children and Families.

Along with direct services centering around childhood development, the program is also able to refer parents to services catered to areas that Parents as Teachers are not able to provide such as special needs. If the child has a delay or disability and they can also help get other services or refer to other agencies if they are needed.

Tyler County Schools have been gracious in donating space for the program. Kent Yoho, principal of Tyler Consolidated High School, was instrumental in getting the space approved, along with Tyler County Superintendent of Schools Robin Daquilante.

The Tyler County branch operates out of the old board office located at 1993 Silver Knights Drive. To inquire about services call 304-455-2468.

More information can be found on the Parents as Teachers website at www.Parentsasteachers.org.