Category Archives: Uncategorized

Helping Children Cope with Tragedy

When tragic events occur, many parents and caregivers struggle with how much they should share with their children. While it’s impossible to shield our kids from the horrific reports of the past few days, we also want to avoid sharing unnecessary information that may further alarm or upset them.  Parents as Teachers has specific advice for parents who are wondering how to address these issues with their children.

Media Exposure

Turn off the television and radio when young children are around. Continually witnessing unrest can be very unsettling for them. The American Academy of Pediatrics says children as young as four-years-old will likely hear about major crisis events. The AAP says it’s best they hear about it from a parent or caregiver, as opposed to another child or in the media. In general, it’s best to share basic and concrete information with young children and avoid graphic or unnecessary details about tragic circumstances. Children aren’t little adults. Answer questions in an age-appropriate way and with only a few details. They should be in an environment that fits their developmental needs.

Keep a Routine and Remain Calm

Children thrive on routine. Try to keep regular mealtimes and bedtime. Spend quiet time reading each night to create calm. What children need to hear most is that the adults around them will take care of them and protect them. It is appropriate for children to see adults showing emotion, but it frightens them when their parents lose control. If you feel emotional, try to remove yourself briefly until you can calm down.

Take Care of Yourself

Take care of yourself and address your own needs. This allows you to take care of your child.  Do not be afraid to seek help for yourself or your child if reactions or coping become difficult to manage. These are unusual circumstances. It is normal not to have all the answers.

These are just a few suggestions of how to help children cope with tragedy. Each parent or caregiver must decide what approach is best for their family. Again, Parents as Teachers has resources on our website. You can also call the national center at 314-432-4330.


Collective Impact and Home Visitation in Georgia

This is a Guest Blog by Andrea Irvin, Director – Education/Community Engagement, United Way of Greater Atlanta

Those who work with children and families know that no single organization or entity can create long-lasting social change alone. The idea of collective impact’ revolves around this premise. It addresses the idea that the many small light bulbs equal big onepurposeful, long-term, cross-sector of committed non-profit, community, business and government organizations working together on a clearly defined goal are far more likely  to create lasting solutions to social problems than they could individually.

Key partners involved in funding Parents as Teachers and other home visitation programs around the Greater Atlanta area recognized that collective impact was needed to align efforts for Home Visitation throughout the state of Georgia.

United Way of Greater Atlanta established system-level partnerships with the Governor’s Office for Children and Families (GOCF), Georgia’s Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV), and Voices for Georgia’s Children to align priorities, technical assistance and funding streams to better serve our most vulnerable families and children.

With an aim to shift from isolated impact to collective impact with continuous communication, a shared vision and engagement in mutually reinforcing activities to promote home visitation, early education and family support, these partners are setting the stage for funding allocations that will support long-term sustainability of home visiting in Georgia.

Examples include:

  • United Way of Greater Atlanta played a central role in advocating for dollars through the Affordable Health Care Act (AHCA) to be used for increasing access and expanding the quality of home visitation programs.
  • Georgia’s Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV) was authorized by AHCA and provides an opportunity for collaboration and partnership at the federal, state, and community level to improve health and development outcomes for at-risk children through evidence-based home visiting programs in Georgia such as Parent as Teachers, SafeCare, and Nurse Family Partnership.
  • The Governor’s Office for Children and Families (GOCF) has adopted home visitation as a key strategy in its statewide mission to fund and support community-based projects that develop integrated and comprehensive approaches to improve child and family well-being.
  • Voices for Georgia’s Children, a nonprofit child policy and advocacy organization, has established the following priorities to educate the public and elected officials about effective polices in the following areas which are having a positive impact on replicating and sustaining early education and home visitation programs:
    > Expanding and improving Georgia’s Pre-K program and childcare services
    > Effective home visiting initiatives
    > Adequate funding for children’s services, including newborn and young child health and developmental screenings
    > Policies that help children stay in schools and complete their Pre-K through 12 education
  • Great Start Georgia is a result of the statewide leadership team focusing on supporting children and families through a comprehensive approach. Still in its early stages, it’s the state of Georgia’s attempt to streamline services provided for families with children age birth to 5.

Note by the editor: United Way of Greater Atlanta is sponsoring the 2013 Parents as Teachers Conference, a professional development and growth opportunity for home visiting professionals working with families of young children. The conference is being hosted in Atlanta, Georgia, on October 2-4, 2013 at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis.

A Cool Breeze for Washington

It is no doubt going to be a hot summer in Washington, and the political hot air isn’t much help.  A good way for our elected leaders to “chill out” might be to reach agreement on an issue that in the past has had strong bipartisan support.  Support for early learning, particularly the extension and expansion of a current initiative that has proven to have an incredible positive return on investment, might be what is needed to put a welcome chill in the air.

In his State of the Union address, President Obama called for significant investments in preschool, and expansion of the highly successful federal home visiting initiative, called the Maternal Infant Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) initiative.  As the President noted, analysis from the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis demonstrates a return on investment of up to $18 for every $1 we dedicate to these early learning strategies. 

Parents as Teachers (PAT) is one of the selected evidence based home visiting models that states have adopted to inform and engage parents as the first and most significant teachers of their young children.  In the last year alone, our Parent Educators have made nearly 1.7 million home visits with families across the nation.  A 2007 study by Edward Zigler and Judy Pfannenstiel confirms that high-quality preschool, along with parent education services such as PAT, can virtually eliminate the learning gaps between children from low-income and middle-class families. So we have a strategy that both works, and saves more than it costs. 

PAT was at first adopted by former Missouri Governor Kit Bond, a Republican.  It has since been supported by governors and legislatures of both parties, in states across the nation.  Ask any family who has benefited from PAT, and they will tell you how significant their parent educator was to them in their early years of parenting.  In addition, many of our elected leaders have had personal experience with PAT as young parents. 

The point is that early learning has bipartisan support because it works.  PAT and similar home visiting models are proven to reduce child abuse and malnutrition, identify health and learning problems, and improve the overall physical and mental health of children and mothers. When we deal with these matters early in life, it makes for a healthier nation with more effective parents and higher-achieving children.  It also costs a whole lot less to identify and treat developmental problems early, than to fix them later in life.  

Federal funding for home visiting has benefited hundreds of thousands of families in every state in the nation.  Members of Congress have an opportunity—this year—to extend and expand funding for MIECHV programs that have proven they can make a difference in the lives of children and families. 

Yes, there’s a lot of hot air rising over Washington, and there are clear differences over the budget.  But members of both parties should agree that proven interventions such as home visiting deserve continued and expanded funding.  It is not just the right thing, it is the smart thing to do.

Scott Hippert is President and CEO of Parents as Teachers National Center.


2012 in review

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 17,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 4 Film Festivals!

In 2012, there were 58 new posts, growing the total archive of our blog to 308 posts. The busiest day of the year was September 4: the post popular post that day was “Look who’s talking about Parents as Teachers.”

These posts got the most views in 2012:

The top referring sites in 2012 were:

How do you create a legacy?

It’s always rewarding to do good work, but it’s especially rewarding to know you’ve contributed to a greater good.

Parents as Teachers looked very different when I came here 13 years ago! I am extremely proud of the organization it has become and appreciate beyond words the opportunity I was given to lead the communication efforts that helped achieve so much.

One of my colleagues shared a delightful holiday card she received out of the blue from a family she visited as a Parents as Teachers parent educator a decade ago. They still remember how she touched their lives.

Never doubt that you are having an impact!

2013 opens new opportunities for all of us. I will be moving on to apply my skills in other ways; others will be picking up the torch here and continuing to impact countless numbers of lives in exciting and positive ways. Please continue your support for Parents as Teachers.


Onward! New opportunities await.

Photo used under Creative Commons license via Scott Wills photostream.