Ferguson-Florissant Parents as Teachers Program Keeps All Families in Mind
The Ferguson-Florissant School District was one of four districts to originally pilot the program.
As kids head back to the classroom, several children aren’t old enough yet for school. That’s where Parents as Teachers (PAT) comes in. We spoke to the Ferguson-Florissant School District and Hazelwood School District to get insight and information on their PAT programs, which was first piloted in the state of Missouri more than 30 years ago.
In 1981, four school districts in the state of Missouri, including the Ferguson-Florissant School District, piloted Parents as Teachers, which would change how early childhood education was done across the country.
Since that time, a number of families and children have come through the program, which has helped in the child’s development through the school years.
PAT focuses on empowering parents to be educators as well as set a foundation for education.
The program works with parents, from prenatal to five years of age, to have early intervention and high involvement in their children in those early years.
Joy Rouse, director of early childhood education for Ferguson-Florissant, takes inspiration from Superintendent Art McCoy’s vision saying it’s about “high achievement for all … beginning at birth.”
The Ferguson-Florissant program serves children and families from birth to the age of 5. Rouse said that from birth to the age of 3, families are assigned a parent educator and have a once-a-month visit with them. The parent educators answers parents questions about development as well as teaches them activities to do with the child. They all can attend group functions, which might be playtime to a presenter for certain topics.
At the age of 3, parents can decide to stay with the parent educator and PAT or place their child in a half-day preschool program, Rouse said.
Like the Hazelwood School District program, every child in the district is able to be screened for vision/hearing as well as developmental skills, but Rouse points out that Ferguson-Florissant is one of few districts that offer parent educators and home visits to all families.
While all districts have suffered state cuts, she credits the school district with continually supporting the program.
“I think it is significant that our school board has said they will continue to support the program,” she said. “This is something our community can really be proud of. It really is our gift to the world. It makes a difference for families, it makes a difference for children and their success in school.”
The Ferguson-Florissant School District has open enrollment throughout the school year for Parents as Teachers. For more information, call 314-506-9069.