Education Coalition awards $100,000 to help Parents as Teachers Program

Submitted Photo Parents As Teachers home visitor Laury Marshall engages mother Amber Schrader and her son, Austin Calabrese, in learning activities during a home visit in the Southwestern School District. Funding for the program is provided by a grant from the Cummins Foundation as well as district and other local foundation sources.

The Chautauqua County Education Coalition awarded $100,000 to help scale offering of Parents as Teachers Program at area schools in Chautauqua County.

The Chautauqua County Education Coalition (CCEC) was recently awarded a $100,000 grant by the Cummins Foundation to expand Jamestown Community Learning Council’s (JCLC) Parents as Teachers (PAT) program throughout Chautauqua County School Districts.

PAT is an evidence-based program designed to enhance child development and school achievement through parent participation in developmentally appropriate early childhood activities facilitated by home/school liaisons during home visits. It can serve families throughout pregnancy until their child enters first grade. There are three primary goals of PAT: increase parent knowledge of early childhood development and improve parenting practices, provide early detection of developmental delays and health issues, and increase children’s school readiness and success.

Research indicates there are “windows of opportunity” from birth throughout the early years when learning takes place more easily. Parents As Teachers helps parents become more aware of these stages of development by providing information that helps to nurture and support the cognitive, emotional, social and physical well-being of children. Developmental strengths as well as possible delays can be more easily recognized when parents understand what to expect during each stage of development and how to capture the teachable moments in everyday life that will encourage their child’s growth in all learning domains.

The CCEC is a dynamic public-private partnership made up of 125 stakeholders representing 70 organizations and is the catalyst for collaboration around four components within Chautauqua County’s educational system: Early Childhood, Middle School to High School Career Pathways, Current Employer Needs and Community Collaboration. Through a community process the Chautauqua County Education Coalition identified the Parents as Teachers program as a catalytic project in early childhood for Chautauqua County. Jamestown Community Learning Council has been delivering PAT for over 18 years to hundreds of community families with funding from school districts and local foundations. Through the securement of these additional grant funds PAT services will be offered at Brocton and Dunkirk Central School for the very first time. Additionally, Frewsburg, Jamestown and Southwestern Central School District programs will be expanded with the ability and intent to grow over time. The overall goal to this project is to help children achieve school and life success with increased educational achievement through parent engagement. Districts self-selected by participating in the program through the Erie 2 BOCES CoSer Agreement.

With the endorsement of PAT by the CCEC and with the support of BOCES chief administrators a CoSer (Cooperative Services) proposal was put forth and approved by New York State Education in January 2018. PAT has now become recognized by the NYS Education Department as a program eligible for BOCES CoSer aid to school districts seeking to make the program available in their community. “A milestone that was finally realized after over a decade of effort by numerous community supporters who stayed the course bring this longtime goal to fruition. The generous grant from the Cummins Foundation was truly the icing on the cake that helped superintendents bring the program to their districts,” states JCLC executive director, Rosary Kolivas. All in all, this project is anticipated to reach 86 families in Chautauqua County and is a true testament to community collaboration.

Justin Hanft, CCEC executive director further adds that, “the primary purpose of the Coalition is to align resources and build capabilities to meet the evolving workforce requirements of the community. To that end, the CCEC is building partnerships through evidence-based projects, like Parents as Teachers, to assure that Chautauqua County is “community ready” for opportunities that advance our learning system and lead to job retention and job growth.”

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