The two faces of Parents as Teachers in Missouri


By Maggie Probert

One day you read a lead story in the newspaper about the drastic cuts in services of Missouri Parents as Teachers programs due to a 60% cut in state funding and regulatory changes. Tens of thousands of Missouri families lose services and hundreds of parent educators are laid off or working reduced hours.

The next day you read another story about Parents as Teachers receiving a $14.25 million federal stimulus grant but the money can’t be used to serve Missouri families. This can seem both unfair and confusing.

Consider this: Missouri school-based Parents as Teachers programs are funded by and operate under the regulations of the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. While the national Parents as Teachers office works closely with the Department, it does not and never has funded local Parents as Teachers programs.

Every funding source has its own set of guidelines that recipients must follow. Just as Missouri Parents as Teachers programs follow DESE’s regulations so, too, the national Parents as Teachers office must follow the guidelines for federal grants.

In the case of this newest federal stimulus grant, the guidelines were about services to students at the highest risk of failure. The guidelines specifically identified funding for services to schools in rural areas and serving Native American families so Parents as Teachers must use these funds according to these guidelines.

We continue to seek ways to restore funding for Missouri Parents as Teachers programs. Working with our partners across the state we are hopeful that we can convince the General Assembly that Parents as Teachers funding for Missouri families can have the same payback as federal funding for Parents as Teachers services to American Indian families.

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6 thoughts on “The two faces of Parents as Teachers in Missouri

  1. Lindsey Howard

    We had a WONDERFUL home visit last night with a new educator. At the end of our visit, we were informed that we no longer qualify to participate in the program. We don’t qualify because: we aren’t teen parents, don’t qualify Medicaid, Food Stamps, or WIC, haven’t been referred by the correctional system, don’t have a child with mental or learning disabilities, etc. Please justify to me why we are bring punished because we are a 2-working parent family with good morals and values and do what it takes to provide for our children so that the government doesn’t have to assist us. What perks do we get? Our groceries, medical insurance, utilities, and mortgage payments come from our PAYCHECKS, not the government. If nothing else gets attention, please justify to me how this is not discrimination.

  2. Susan Hall

    Every state may have it’s own guidelines for services. I am in NY state and we do not have restrictions for our families to receive home visits. I agree with you that it should be available for ALL families. I am a parent educator and love the fact that I can support all families. Where is it written that a family needs to be on welfare to obtain some child development education? I think our programs are too often FUNDER driven instead of FAMILY driven. It’s a shame.

  3. Traci Canote

    It is so frustrating Lindsay. I see families like your every day that are also not considered “high needs” and still have many questions about child development and parenting. I’m a parent educator in Missouri, and while I feel thankful everyday to be working for PAT in Missouri, I also struggle with the frustrations of having to tell some of my long served families that I can’t see them much right now. I agree that it’s just not fair. Do your best to spread the love of PAT and reach out to legislators in your state and national level. Word of mouth resulting in lots of phone calls and letters can’t hurt.

  4. Crystal Burch

    As a “graduate” from the PAT program and a Parent Educator, this is such a painful issue! Due to the mass amount of irresponsibility we have enabled for the past few generations, we are all suffering. We had been in Parents As Teachers for nine years before my youngest started Kindergarten this fall. We are hard-working, tax-paying, law-abiding, church-loving and family-oriented. We volunteer, we donate, I could go on and on. Our children and our family greatly benefited from our involvement in PAT. I truly feel like we are punishing those who rise above. This happens in our classrooms nation-wide and it’s trickling down to one of the most important programs we have. In addition, it paints the idea that a non-high needs family will not have a child that needs additional support. By not being in the homes, we are under-serving this area. It does NOT matter what characteristics your family falls under. We ALL need support and education to be our child’s first, most important and enduring teacher. Let’s rise up and demand that we are entitled to the best we can get!

  5. yellowroselady

    Parents as Teachers is one of the many programs being cut while some of the states, Missouri for sure, are looking at becoming SORNA compliant in 2011. SORNA is Title 1 of the Adam Walsh Act and is federally mandated by Congress. Many other states are trying to delay or refuse to comply because the cost is astronomical in an economy with 10% unemployment and TRILLIONS in National Debt. The Adam Walsh Act is supposed to give America the feeling that the states and federal government are ensuring a safe environment for their kids. Truth be known, there is no Sex Offender Registry or Law that can guarantee that. Parents have to be involved in every aspect of their kids lives. Here are some facts:
    There are over 750,000 registered sex offenders in the U.S. and that number grows daily. If each of those had committed the above crimes there would be at least 750,000 stories/cases in the news.

    Research shows that almost half (49%) of youth under age six and 42% of children ages 6 to 11 were sexually assaulted by a family member. (Justice Policy Institute, Pg 15)

    A study reviewing sex crimes as reported to police revealed that:

    93% of child sexual abuse victims knew their abusers
    34.2% were family members
    58.7 % were acquaintances
    Only 7% of the perpetrators of child victims were strangers
    40% of sexual assaults take place in the victim’s own home
    20% take place in the home of a friend, neighbor or relative
    (Lynn University, Pg 6)

    States can expect to incur significant costs as they attempt to implement SORNA, which is Title 1 of the Adam Walsh Act. For example: If the state of Virginia chose to implement the costs would be over $12,000,000 and the yearly Byrne Fund money they lose if they DON’T implement is $400,000…..what would you decide in these economic times?
    (Justice Policy Institute) You can also Google SORNA and look at each state.

    Some of the offenses that award you the title of sex offender include urinating in public, flashing, Romeo & Juliet consensual sex dating relationship, accusations by an angry ex-wife or girlfriend, as well as the hands-on offenses and violent offenses we most often hear about.

    Even John Walsh said, “Let’s get rid of the Sex Offender Registry as it is now and focus on the 10,000 violent sex offenders and monitor and track them!”

    Patty Wetterling, who’s child was a victim doesn’t support today’s approach to the issue or mandated laws.

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