WSW: Helping Parents in Their Child's Early Years
The parent should be their child’s “first and most important teacher.” That’s the idea behind the Parents as Teachers program.
Last year the Learning Network of Kalamazoo and the United Way of the Greater Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region provided funding to launch the program in Kalamazoo County. Research has shown that the program has been beneficial to children nationwide. The Director of Early Childhood Programs for the Kalamazoo Regional Education Service Agency Kristi Carambula and Parent Educator Bianca Harris joined WMUK’s Gordon Evans to discuss the program and its benefits.
There are currently 19 parent educators. Last year more than 350 families were served. Carambula says they would like to be available to all families.
“Our ideal would be to have the parent leave the hospital knowing with their newborn who their parent educator is, the reality is we don’t have the capacity to do that.”
Carambula says they try to ensure that the families with the greatest need are given priority. There are five organizations that have formed a consortium to send parent educators into homes throughout Kalamazoo County. Harris is with Community Healing Centers of Kalamazoo, she says coming into the home makes it convenient and comfortable for parents. Harris says it also allows educators to see if there are other needs for those parents and their children.
"It would be great if this just became part of what we do for all families."
Carambula says the money provided by the Learning Network was “seed money” to get the program off the ground for the first year. The United Way has made a longer-term financial commitment. The Kalamazoo Community Foundation has provided some money to replace the Learning Network funding. Carmabula says
“It would be great if this just became part of what we do for all families.”
She says it would help children in school and help parents be more engaged.