By Stephanie Skordas, Director of Marketing & Communications
Parents as Teachers Guilford County (PATGC) believes all parents can be empowered to interact with their children in a way that encourages healthy well-rounded development, while enjoying their parenting journey.
“We work with families who are expecting children or have children up through their child’s entry into kindergarten or turn age six,” said Patti Learman, director of Parents as Teachers Guilford County. “Our work is built around the relationship that develops between the parent educator and the family. It’s a partnership for the parenting journey – these relationships are the ‘secret sauce’ that really make a difference.”
Learman explains that Parents as Teachers has four components to its program. Personal visits offer one-on-one time with a parent educator who shares child development information and activities. Regular screenings help parents make sure their child or children are healthy, safe, and developing on track. Group connections provide opportunities for families to share experiences, discuss challenges, and learn with other parents, and community resources are matched with families by parent educators to address parents’ concerns and needs.
From startup conversations to participating in the first cohort of the Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI), Parents as Teachers has been collaborating with Ready for School, Ready for Life (Ready Ready) for years.
“During the CQI process, we focused on bringing parent voice to our board,” Learman said. “We also did a lot of trauma-informed work with our parent educators so they understand how many families have experienced trauma and how we can best interact with them. Now it’s part of our policies and procedures and part of our regular work.”
Generally, the organization works with 60-75 families each year. The COVID-19 pandemic did affect the numbers slightly, but Learman and her team were delighted that switching to virtual visits was welcomed by their families. “We actually saw an increase in our visit numbers because families were so anxious for interaction,” she said. “We also gave tablets with a wi-fi hotspot to more than a dozen families who didn’t have internet access, thanks to funding provided through Smart Start.”
Like Ready Ready, Parents as Teachers supports school readiness for Guilford County children. Helping children arrive at school with the knowledge, skills, and physical and emotional health needed is one of the focus areas for the organization. Creating strong families is another – recognizing that each family member’s experiences or actions affect the whole unit.
“Family well-being is one of our focus areas,” Learman said. “So, if a parent needs a GED or employment or housing, we’ll get them connected with those resources. At the same time, we help parents understand their child’s stages of development and how they can best nurture them. We also believe strongly in helping parents connect with other families to build a support network and social outlets – when they realize their two-year-old isn’t the only one acting a certain way, they can normalize the parenting struggles and share in the triumphs together. All these areas work together in a complete system.”