Parents as Teachers Mom is New CEO

 

By Sophie Hurwitz, The St. Louis American

Constance Gully, the new CEO of the national nonprofit Parents as Teachers, which is headquartered in St. Louis County, knows how the early childhood home visits that the program provides can help a family.

“My son is 22, and he was a Parents as Teachers baby,” she said. “So I was a Parents as Teachers parent at one time, in Normandy School District. So I always tell people, about my PAT baby, that the only thing my parent educator didn’t prepare me for was my baby growing a beard!”

Parents as Teachers provides home visits to new parents, starting during pregnancy and continuing through the first few years of a child’s life. Though the nonprofit was founded in Missouri in 1984, it has since expanded its footprint to all 50 states, 100 tribal communities, and six countries. During Parents as Teachers (PAT) home visits, they coach parents on childcare tips, provide immunizations, screen children to identify developmental disabilities early on, and help connect parents with services.

Though Parents as Teachers has grown significantly from its humble origins, the organization is still heavily invested in the St. Louis area – as evidenced by their choice of Constance Gully, an East St. Louis native and former CFO for Harris-Stowe State University, as CEO. Gully has been the permanent CEO since February and interim CEO since August 2016. She was promoted from CFO.

“As an African-American female in the nonprofit world, I think this is a very unique opportunity,” she said. “There aren’t a lot of national nonprofit CEOs that look like me, and I don’t take that lightly.”

Now she is working to organize the upcoming Parents as Teachers International Conference in Philadelphia this November. Along with that, Gully is prioritizing attempts to keep funding for the program. Parents as Teachers uses a scientifically proven model for improving children’s school-readiness, so it has previously received substantial government funding.

“There are some very high stakes on the radar for early childhood evidence-based home visiting, specifically,” said Gully. The Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV), which provides grant funding for “about 25 percent” of PAT programs in 35 states, is currently set to expire on September 30.

Though one of her priorities as CEO is to keep national funding, the funding situation in Missouri, where the program began, has been “challenging” for some time.

“We’re still at almost half of the funding level where we were, from the state of Missouri, back in 2010,” she said. So as the organization has grown, its funding in Missouri has shrunk.  

“Many of the districts in Missouri don’t have the resources to meet their requirements today,” Gully said. “So we have to find a creative way to support the districts in Missouri, whether that’s technical assistance or helping them through in some other way.”

One program Parents as Teachers has in Missouri is a partnership with the Normandy Schools Collaborative, the region where Gully raised her own son. PAT’s office space in the district is right next to the Normandy Early Childhood Center, allowing them to collaborate on making sure children have all the immunizations required to begin kindergarten and track the developmental milestones of each child.

In her role as CEO, Gully also hopes to increase the cultural sensitivity of Parents as Teachers and to reflect the diversity of the families the organization serves.

“One of the important roles that I have is to increase and improve the level of cultural competency that we have as an organization, and push that strength out to the field,” she said. “To make sure, for example, that the books that are usually passed out during every home visit reflect the families that are served.”

And that ability to reach families from every cultural background, and help with the difficult task of parenting, is why Gully fights to make sure Parents as Teachers keeps growing into the future.

“We work in urban communities, rural communities, tribal communities, military families,” she said. “I think we are uniquely prepared as a model to reach families where they are.”

Parents as Teachers Takes Home Visiting Message to Washington, D.C.

MacKenzie Grayson, Supervisor for the Parents as Teachers program in the Normandy Schools Collaborative and former PAT participant, recently met with U.S. Senator Roy Blunt in Washington, D.C. MacKenzie was part of a group of PAT moms and parent educators from several states who traveled to the nation’s capital last week to visit with lawmakers. Others included Daniela Cardenas (PAT mom) and her Parent Educator, Rosy Torrico from Washington, Flora Nyakatura (PAT mom) and her Parent Educator, Lauren Ware from Kansas. They were honored at the national Home Visiting Coalition’s “Seeding Success” event. At the event, Rosy and Daniela also presented Rep. Reichert (R-WA-8) with a home visiting champion award. They also made visits with U.S. Sens Blunt (R-MO), Roberts (R-KS), McCaskill (D-MO), Murray (D-WA), Cantwell (D-WA) and Rep. Yoder, (R-KS-3) to talk about the reauthorization of the federal home visiting program, MIECHV.

MIECHV Reauthorization

The leaders of six home visiting programs, including the CEO of Parents as Teachers, Constance Gully, recently traveled to Capitol Hill to discuss ongoing efforts to reauthorize the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV). This vital program is due to expire in September. To learn more about the CEO’s visit to Washington, D.C. and the push to reauthorize MIECHV, read this article by the Chronicle of Social Change.

If you are one of the Parents as Teachers affiliates in 35 states nationwide that receives some MIECHV funding, now is the time to write to your member of Congress. Please take action today to support the reauthorization of MIECHV by participating in our letter writing campaign. It’s fast and easy and takes less than two minutes. Please click here to send an email to your member of Congress. Your voice is important!

Board Member Honored

Parents as Teachers Board Member Steven Rosenblum was recently honored by Washington University in St. Louis for his contributions to the community. Mr. Rosenblum was given the 2017 Gerry & Bob Virgil Ethic of Service Award. This annual honor recognizes a select group of Washington University community members who exemplify a character of service and giving to the St. Louis region.

You can read much more about the Gerry & Bob Virgil Ethic of Service Award by clicking this link. Additionally, you can read more about Mr. Rosenblum’s work with Parents as Teachers and the rest of the PAT board members by clicking here.

Former First Lady of Idaho supports reauthorization of MIECHV, and says PAT helps families in Idaho

Scientific research on how children learn and grow has made it clearer than ever that parents are the most important teachers and families are the most effective ‘schools.’ With Mother’s Day here, Father’s Day soon after, and the clock ticking on family support programs in Washington, now is the time to put that research into practice. After all, Mother’s Day brunch lasts an hour. Flowers last a week. Investing in strong families is a gift that last a lifetime.

The Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting program is such an investment. This flexible, locally administered program, also known as MIECHV, expires in September unless Congress acts. Idaho, which does not invest in home visiting, cannot afford to let this happen.


Read the full article here.

New Report Shows Home Visiting Programs Cut Crime and Boost the Economy

Law enforcement and business leaders highlight home visiting programs’ value in reducing child abuse and neglect, which curbs crime, while positively impacting the economy.

New Report Shows Home Visiting Programs Cut Crime and Boost the Economy Law enforcement and business leaders highlight home visiting programs’ value in reducing child abuse and neglect, which curbs crime, while positively impacting the economy.

Today, Council for a Strong America ’s business and law enforcement leaders, Fight Crime: Invest in Kids and ReadyNation, released a new report, Parenting Works: The Public Safety and Economic Benefits of Home Visiting . The report focuses on the power of voluntary home visiting in increasing public safety and positively impacting communities through an improved workforce and fiscal savings. The programs instill stability and independence by counseling parents on the skills needed to stimulate their child’s development and avoid harmful practices that can result in abuse and neglect. Read the report. A Missouri PAT mother is highlighted in the report.

Parents as Teachers CEO Joins Panel of Experts on Education

Parents as Teachers National Center CEO Constance Gully recently joined a panel of experts for a roundtable discussion on the challenges and issues facing educators, families and children. The engaging conversation was hosted by the St. Louis Business Journal, and included leaders from across the St. Louis region.

Topics of the roundtable included access to quality education for the underserved, intervention in the early years and how partnerships can further the goal of quality education for all children. 

You can read a transcript of the roundtable discussion by clicking this link on the St. Louis Business Journal's website.

Outcomes Field Test

 
 

Increasingly, national, state, and local stakeholders and decision-makers want to know more about the impact of home visiting on families and children. For the 2016-2017 Program Year, Parents as Teachers launched an Outcomes Field Test with interested affiliates to test out a process for collecting and reporting outcomes data.

Sixty affiliates from 26 states volunteered to participate in the field test. Participants are all measuring Parenting Skills, Practices, or Capacities outcomes using a reliable and valid outcomes tool. They are also measuring at least one additional outcome related to child or family health/well-being or child development. The most commonly selected outcomes include well child visits and depression. In January, participating affiliates completed a Mid-Point Check-In Survey on their experiences with the field test so far, their selected tools, and additional outcomes supports that would be beneficial. Of those who completed the survey, many of the participating affiliates (over half) were already collecting these outcomes prior to the Field Test for a funder or as part of their regular documentation process.

Parents as Teachers is committed to data-driven practice and to reinforcing its use throughout our network of country/state offices and local affiliates. If you would like to learn more about the Outcomes Field Test or if you have any questions about outcomes measurement or tools, please reach out to us at Outcomes@ParentsasTeachers.org.