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Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2019:11:01 19:42:03

Adelaide dyes Easter eggs during a Parents as Teachers home visit.

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2019:11:01 19:42:10

Parents as Teachers educator Tabitha El holds Arden during a home visit.

The Parents as Teachers program through HANDS of Wyoming County has benefited Brittany Decker and her family in a variety of ways.

“It helps not only for you to understand the growth of your child and see what track they’re on, but it helps you to become a better parent,” she said.

The Mehoopany-based nonprofit organization provides early childhood education and resources to area families, including Parents as Teachers, which serves children from prenatal to 5 years old.

“It is an evidence-based home visiting program,” said Parents as Teachers educator Tabitha El. “We service families to help with early childhood development to improve parents’ practices with their children, like parent-child interaction, and to increase their school readiness and get them prepared for kindergarten so they can have success.”

Parents as Teachers provides early detection screenings for developmental delays and health issues in children, and also serves as an “eyes and ears in the home” to prevent abuse and neglect, El said.

“We stay with them until their first year of kindergarten just to make sure that everything is going well with the school year,” she said. “We provide them with access to resources in the community, and we have programs here for our families to participate in.”

This includes story hour, vision and dental screenings, holiday programs, a baby pantry through the St. Joseph’s Center in Scranton and a food pantry through the Weinberg Food Bank.

HANDS opens Parents as Teachers up to any local families, regardless of income level.

Most clients hear about Parents as Teachers through word of mouth advertising, El said, but HANDS also receives referrals from agencies such as Children & Youth.

Funding from United Way of Wyoming County makes Parents as Teachers possible. United Way kicked off its 2019 campaign in mid-October and hopes to raise at least $600,000 by Dec. 31 to allocate between its community agencies.

“I think they are a fabulous program and wonderful for our community to fund programs that probably wouldn’t be around without them,” El said. “They have a huge impact on the families in our community with their funding.”

For nearly three years, Decker, a Tunkhannock resident, has participated in Parents as Teachers.

El conducts home visits twice a month for her 4-year-old daughter Adelaide and 1-year-old son Arden, which typically involve activities, education, question answering and goal setting.

For example, Adelaide has reached a goal of improvement with using scissors, plus learning colors and letters, while El has focused on milestones such as walking with Arden.

Their mother felt concerned that Arden was not advancing as quickly as Adelaide did at his age, but El assured her that babies learn at different paces.

In addition to reaching these goals, Decker said her daughter has become more social and outgoing, better preparing her to start kindergarten next year, as she’s nearly 5 years old.

For Decker, Parents as Teachers has helped her develop more patience and stronger communication skills with her children. It has also educated her on what to expect as her children grow up, which was especially helpful being a new mother with Adelaide.

A lot of El’s clients show a renewed confidence that they’re doing well as parents. She has worked with Decker and her children since first starting out at HANDS, and it has been a “wonderful” experience to see them grow.

“Just seeing the confidence growing in her as a mom is one of the biggest rewards I get from being a part of this,” El said.

For more information about Parents as Teachers, visit hands-wyco.org or call 570-833-2350.

To learn how to contribute to this year’s United Way campaign, visit wyomingcountyunitedway.org.