Archive for Thursday, June 5, 2008

District Parents as Teachers program moving to Mill Creek Middle School

June 5, 2008

In her 10 years with De Soto USD 232, Barbara Inman has faced several moves with the Parents as Teachers program.

"We were at Mill Valley, Woodsonia, Prairie Ridge, Clear Creek, Countryside and Mize," said Inman, administrative director of the program.

Soon Inman will be able to add another location to her list as the Parents as Teachers program prepares to move from its locations at Prairie Ridge Elementary School and Countryside Learning Center to one location at Mill Creek Middle School.

"The location and everything was actually our choice," she said. "It's more centrally located, and we will be able to consolidate our playgroup space and our office into one location."

Inman said the move, which will take place in July, was needed to make room for the early childhood program that will move from Horizon Elementary School to Countryside.

Parents as Teachers is a parent education and family support program that serves families throughout pregnancy until their child's third birthday.

The program is free to families in the school district and is available to all children, regardless of background, in the specified age group.

Currently, 300 families receive support from Parents as Teachers, Inman said. Since July 2007, the program facilitated 1,181 personal visits with families in the program.

The program also offers group meetings that allow parents to gain support from each other and weekly play groups that allow children to socialize with others their age.

Inman said the Parents as Teachers staff work with parents to teach them the windows of opportunity when children are more adapt to learning specific skills.

"That is when the brain development takes place," she said. "It is the most rapid and extensive and it influences the child throughout their life. Unless they are stimulated at the right time, then the brain can't get properly wired and so forth."

Because Parents as Teachers can only serve families based on how much state funding the program receives, there is a waiting list that has fluctuated from 55 to 70 families since July 2007, Inman said.

"We have had Parents as Teachers families that have written to legislators to educate legislators about what Parents as Teachers is and why it is an important thing," she said.

And Inman said the program has proven to be successful.

"That last personal visit we leave a survey of parenting practice form that measures the progress before they started with Parents as Teachers and when they ended the program," she said. "Every single one that we have gotten back we have seen a huge change in parenting practices."

Inman also works as a state consultant for the Parents as Teachers program and goes on site visits and works with programs throughout the state on quality standards. And every year in the Legislature, she notices more emphasis put on early childhood education.

"There is much more attention now on the importance of those early years," she said.

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