How Missouri Empowers Parents
Parents as Teachers is an approved home-visiting model meeting evidence-based criteria. Certified parent-educators emphasize parent-child interaction, development-centered parenting and family well-being.
Parents as Teachers builds resilience, social connections, access to and use of services as well as supports social-emotional development in families and children. The program exists in every state, and the model is implemented through a variety of mechanisms. Federal funding for the Maternal, Infant, Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program currently supports 26 state departments to include Parents as Teachers. States may use community health centers, Head Start programs, clinics or a centralized intake system through MIECHV funding instead of using school districts to house home visitation services.
- Components of the Program
In Missouri, the state funds the school district to train parent educators and to implement the model services. One to 40 parent educators are located in each school district to work with families with children from birth to 5 years of age and beginning during the prenatal period. Implementing the model with fidelity includes service delivery of four components:
1) Home Visits — Parent educators meet with a family at least monthly during a home or personal visit, with higher frequency for families at risk, to implement a curriculum that educates on parenting skills.
2) Screening — Children are screened annually for health, hearing, vision and developmental delays.
3) Group Connections — At least one monthly group connection is held to help build social connections for families.
4) Resource Networking — Parent educators partner with families by directly connecting families to services in the community.
- Lessons Learned
- Funding is critical to the success of this program as a statewide initiative. School district budgets are tight, and the amount of state reimbursement for a visit is less than the district pays, which can be a disincentive to providing services to families. Sometimes, states and localities adapt the model based on their available funding and do not provide the complete evidence-based model. States need to be able to fund the evidenced-based model for a minimum of 2 years to meet 14 criteria for implementation found at Parents as Teachers to be called an affiliate.
- States need to keep up-to-date with trends in services to families with young children, including quality and costs of services. States must see themselves as partners with implementers who keep up with research and the status of communities served to ensure the safety and well-being of children.