To the editor:
Every new parent needs a support system, someone they can turn to for information on parenting and child development. Until recently, the Tiverton Parents as Teachers (PAT) Program has provided 200 local families with a secure support system for the past four years.
Established in 2008 through federal funding, this free program works with local families to help their children thrive in a safe, healthy and nurturing home by providing guidance, information and access to resources. Aimed at families with children ages birth to kindergarten entry, the Tiverton PAT Program provides participants with:
- Home visits by a certified parent educator
- Information on what to look for and expect as your child grows and develops
- Weekly drop in and play sessions at Pocasset School
- Connections to other community resources.
But with recent reductions in federal Title 1 Program funding and state grants, the Tiverton PAT Program almost ceased to exist. Thanks to the generous support of a $2,800 grant from the Tiverton Prevention Coalition, the weekly drop in and play sessions will continue. But until more funding is secured, the home visits for new parents and workshops for parents have stopped.
I am thankful that we’ve been able to hold on to the drop in and play session but I hope to get the program back to where it was and reinstate the home visits and workshops. Parents as Teachers has been a wonderful resource for so many families.
To get a feel for just how popular the drop in and play session of PAT is, you just need to look around the pre-school classroom at Pocasset School. It’s thriving! On October 22 there were 14 parents or grandparents and 21 babies or toddlers in attendance. As the children played with toys and interacted, adults enjoyed a chance to socialize as well.
Some were relatively new to the group, like John Schenck who brought his one-year-old twin granddaughters Kendall and Kailynn or Rachel Anselmo and her soon to be two-year-old daughter Sophia. Others like Rhianna Gardener and her four-year-old son Aiden have been coming for awhile.
Theresia Joy and her 11-month-old daughter Lilia are big supporters of Tiverton PAT. “You don’t realize how many questions you’ll have when you first become a mother. Joan’s home visits were crucial. She’d answer my questions and give me information. She really made me feel confident about the job I was doing as a parent.”
PAT also aims help parents connect to the other community resources that are available — new parent support groups, accredited childcare programs, food, heating and housing assistance, early learning programs, local libraries, children’s museums, etc., recreational offerings, and family health and wellness programs.
How can you help this vital program continue and thrive in Tiverton? The yearly budget for the Tiverton PAT Program is $6,570. The program is asking for support from individual and corporate donors. Donations are tax-deductible and a receipt will be provided. Please mail checks to the Tiverton Education Foundation, PO Box 303, Tiverton, RI 02878. Also, please indicate on your check that the donation be forwarded to the Tiverton Parents as Teachers Program.
For more information on the PAT Program, contact Joan Macomber at 683-0166. The drop in and play sessions are held at Pocasset School from 9:30 to 11 a.m., and are scheduled for November 5, 19 and 26, December 3, 10 and 17, January 7, 14 and 28, February 4, 11 and 2, March 4, 11, 18, 25, April 1, 8, 22 and 29, and May 6, 13 and 20
Certified parent educator, Parents as Teachers