Debbie Hyde a 20-year parent educator with the Thayer School District, said the Parents as Teachers National Center wanted to make the Parents as Teachers (PAT) program alive for legislators by inviting them to observe the foundation of the program, the personal visit.
Hyde said to supplement the Missouri advocacy efforts, the PAT National Center introduced a statewide Parents as Teachers legislator home visit event in every legislator's home district between Jan. 30 and Feb. 10.
Rep. Dethrow accompanied Hyde on a personal visit with the Mike Hargus family in Thayer. Alyssa Hargus, as well as two foster children in the home, took park in a personal visit focusing on fine motor development and eye-hand coordination.
Dethrow also visited with Alton School PAT Coordinator Saundra Doris and Shiann Vater, one of her students. Shiann is the daughter of Luke Vater and Heather Barton
The program is based on the philosophy that parents are their children's first and most influential teachers.
It was founded to help parents become aware of learning opportunities for their children within the context of their everyday life. PAT has been adapted to serve families of varying needs and circumstances, including teen parents, families with critical issues and families with special needs.
The program covers child development, suggests activities that encourage language development, intellectual growth, social and motor skills and strengthens the parent-child relationship.
There is a curriculum for each stage of development. It promotes parent involvement in learning from the beginning of a child's life.
Dethrow participated in the program at Thayer the end of January.
"This was an opportunity for me as a legislator to see, on a personal level, how the program works. PAT actually helps children get ready for school and to also find any problem the child might have before they get into the classroom," Dethrow said.
The state representative said the Missouri PAT program was the first to start across the nation and was started by Gov. Roy Blunt in 1981. "The PAT program in our state was a pioneer program. It has served as an important part of Missouri education," Dethrow said.
He said the program is state funded. "We are currently in the budget process of our legislative session and $1 million has been proposed for the PAT program in the state," he said.
The program includes four main components -- home visits, group meetings, screenings to assess the child's development and resource network.
Studies of the program in Missouri have revealed that participating children showed a significant advancement over their peers in language, social development and problem skills.
The study also showed that parents involved in the program are more likely to be involved in their child's education in later years.
The PAT program is now implemented in all 50 states.