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Joplin Parents as Teachers Seeks Solutions to Long Waiting List - KOAM TV 7

Joplin Parents as Teachers Seeks Solutions to Long Waiting List

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Joplin, MO -

  Joplin's Parents as Teachers organization looks for solutions to an extremely long waiting list. One hundred thirty-four kids on the list since May 2015.

Recently advisory board members met with parents and stakeholders  about the program that brings support  into the home to get suggestions.

Parent educator Patty Wheeler gives advice to mom Aubrey Courtney. Courtney’s two and half year old gets a visit each month from parents as teachers bringing more than just games but parenting advice.

Courtney says, "It’s frustrating. We went through a period about six months ago where Maddie was really aggressive, angry. She would come and visit and  she would give me all these ideas. And I could implement those things and the next month, you know it was only 4 weeks,  and we could talk about what worked and what didn't. I felt really supported."

More than one hundred families are on the waiting list including one hundred twelve children under the age of three. Wheeler says,"The first thing we want to do is provide that family with a developmental screening for their children. Because with that developmental screening we have  the possibility of identifying needs that child may have early on so that we can then refer that child to other services so that child can enter kindergarten ready to succeed."

But parents as teachers is supposed to be for any parent.  Suggestions at a brain storming session to deal with the waiting list  included giving those with higher needs more visits and creating a staggered schedule for others like every other month.

Beth Wallace, an advisory board member and a recipient of home visits says, "I do know some probably need it more, but I hate for those who want it to be excluded. And if it’s just once every so often,  its better than nothing I think."

But Wallace and most at the session think the first mission should be to seek money from the school district or foundations in order to hire more parent educators. Parents as teachers  will get some help from the district when it comes to manpower this spring.

 Wheeler says, "This year, for first year, we're using some of  their paraprofessionals to help with the kindergarten screening  because again we've got more kindergarteners than I have staff for."

Shifting more of those responsibilities another idea on the table to give educators like Patty more time to tackle the waiting list for home visits.

Parents as Teachers in Joplin has three full time home visitors and three part time staff serving two hundred fifty-seven families now.

     It's a federally funded program with monies funneled through state education departments to school districts.

     Wheeler says only ten families are projected to age out of the program in the next year. 

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