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Don't Overlook Parents in the Early Education Equation

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Colorado voters, state legislatures and governors have all sent a clear message: agree.

Investing in children during the first five years of their lives yields big returns in the form of family stability, child health and school readiness. We also understand that parents are their child’s first teachers. It’s important that parents have the tools they need to help their children grow, learn and grow so they can reach their full potential.

Colorado is making bold investments in early childhood education, including the new Universal Preschool Program and Early Childhood Department. These bold investments are vital to the healthy development of Colorado’s children.

But that’s not enough. Colorado helps parents be the best caretakers and teachers for their children and ensures that all children are ready for school, even those who have not attended preschool. To do so, we need to fill the gap.

Parenting is one of life’s greatest joys. It can also be lonely, difficult, and exhausting. Over the past two years, the pandemic has amplified all the challenges parents face. Many caregivers feel homebound, without extended families or the usual network of fellow parents. They’ve juggled poor newborns, busy toddlers, and overwhelmed school-aged children with little outside support or encouragement.

Across Colorado, nonprofits provide comprehensive home visitation services to help parents raise children who are safe, healthy, and ready to learn.

One model used by local nonprofits is the parent-as-teacher. This model provides parents with knowledge and parenting support for child development, early detection of developmental delays and health problems, prevention of child abuse and neglect, and increased school readiness. By working with local organizations, families can be matched with parent educators who speak their language, share their culture and support their development.

The program makes a measurable difference in the lives of Colorado families who are often the furthest from resources and support. In fact, outcome studies show that the parent-teacher-home-visit model largely reduces the risk of child abuse and neglect by promoting parental resilience and reinforcing what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls protective factors. greatly reduce the

Last year, 1,791 children in Colorado received services from their parents as teachers, but they were far from the need for these services. Greater investments in workforce strengthening programs and strategies are needed to truly meet the needs of Colorado families. Parent educators are key to enabling families enrolled in the program to be successful.

As Colorado continues to strive to expand support for visiting homes, a congressional delegation is also needed to ensure the reauthorization of the Mother, Child and Infant Home Visiting Program, the country’s largest investment in visiting homes. . Colorado receives nearly $8,000,000 each year from this program, helping more than 3,500 of her parents and children through the Visiting Home Program.

The program is set to expire on September 30, and we are asking the Colorado delegation to help re-authorize the program on time. As Colorado, and the country as a whole, slowly emerges from the pandemic and parents continue to deal with the associated economic and emotional impact, it is imperative that the Visiting Home Program not only continue, but increase funding. It is important.

If ever a parent needed support and a safety net, it’s now. With the widespread impact of the pandemic increasing the number of families living in poverty, families will need even greater support through home visits to recover in a post-Covid world.

Last month, parent-teacher parent-educators from around the world gathered in Denver for the organization’s annual international conference. This forum provided an opportunity for Colorado to share information about the state’s incredible investment in early childhood education. As we celebrate the successes that Colorado has achieved, we will continue to do this, support parents, and continue to explore strategies to help prepare every child in Colorado for the first day of kindergarten.


Rhonda Fields of Aurora represents Senate District 29 in the Colorado Senate and serves as Assistant Majority Leader.

Constance Gully of St. Louis is president of Parents as Teachers.

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