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.