By Tia Lynn Ivey
A new $37,000 grant for the Morgan County Family Connection has enabled the organization to start a new initiative called “Morgan County Parents as Teachers Program.”
“Morgan County Family Connection is pleased to announce we were awarded a grant for $37,000 through the GA Division of Family and Children Services to implement the Parents As Teachers Program. These were made possible through their Promoting Safe and Stable Families (PSSF) Program. PSSF provides funding for community-based services to children and families who may be at risk for child abuse and neglect or have had confirmed reports of child abuse and neglect and are involved with the state’s child welfare agency. Funding is also available for services and supports that promote and support adoptions and other permanency options,” said Velde Hardy, Family Connection Coordinator. “Parents as Teachers is an established evidence-based program and was chosen because of its track record in supporting home visitation services. The model will provide the structure essential in supporting family development including: parent-child interaction, development-centered parenting and overall family wellbeing. The components of the program include biweekly personal home visits; monthly support group connections; comprehensive developmental screenings; and resource referrals and community linkage.”
The program aims to partner with parents of children 5 years of age or younger to help those children reach their full potential during those critical pre-school years.
“The Morgan County Parents as Teachers Program (PAT) targets all families from pregnancy to children age 5 who reside in Morgan County with special consideration being granted to young/inexperienced mothers and families who meet one or more high needs characteristics. These high needs include but are not limited to teen parents, socially economically disadvantaged, first time parents, families with limited literacy, and families with history of mental health and/or substance abuse,” explained Hardy. “The Morgan County Parents As Teaches Program was birthed out of the Family Connection Children Safe and Families Strong Strategy Team. It was chosen because analysis of the Kids Count data from 2013 shows there were 29 cases of substantiated child abuse and neglect in Morgan County. Sadly in 2014, Morgan County realized 69 substantiated cases of abuse/neglect which is a 138% increase over the previous year. In addition, the 2014 rate of 16.4 percent (per 1000) exceeds the Georgia rate of 10.2% (per 1000). The implementation of the Morgan County Parents program will help decrease these abuse and neglect numbers by Increasing parent knowledge of early childhood development and improve parenting practices. And providing early detection of developmental delays and health issues and improving school readiness and school success.”
The Ferst Foundation will also play a role in this new program. “Children Ferst Foundation of Morgan County will serve as the fiscal agent for the funds.
Family Connection will provide oversight of the Parents As Teachers Program and will contract with a part time Parent Educator who will work directly with the families. As the families are an intricate part of the process, they will work along with the parent educator in setting their individualized goals and developing their action plans,” explained Hardy. “The Parents as Teachers Home Visiting Program is set to start Oct 1, 2016 and will run through September 30, 2017. Anyone interested in referring a family or would like additional information, please contact the Morgan County Family Connection office at 706-438-1515.”
“We are excited to receive this grant as it provides us with another opportunity to provide strategic supports to our families with young children,’ said Hardy. “The Parents As Teachers home visitations will provides another option for supporting early child development. This in itself helps us move one step closer to reaching our overall goal to help ensure all Morgan County children are ready to start school successfully.”