ParentChild+ (formerly the Parent-Child Home Program) uses education to break the cycle of poverty for low-income families. We engage early in life and help toddlers their parents, and their family childcare providers access a path to possibility. We provide not only early literacy and school readiness supports, but most importantly early opportunity. For families living in underserved communities, we are a first step on the ladder to success, working to close the equity gap and utilize education to provide opportunities.
ParentChild+ is an evidence-based school readiness model that uses education to break the cycle of poverty and build equal possibilities for low-income families. ParentChild+ closes the achievement gap by providing young children and their parents with tools and skills that support a love of learning during the critical early years.
ParentChild+ Inc. is a global non-profit established to support the implementation of the ParentChild+ copyrighted home-visiting models. We provide training, technical assistance, quality assurance, research and evaluation support, advocacy and outreach, and fundraising guidance to replicate our models through social service agencies, community-based organizations, school districts, health organizations, local governments, housing authorities, and other NGOs.
Dr. Phyllis Levenstein founded ParentChild+ in 1965 in order to increase high school graduation rates for low-income students. Research showed that learning needed to start in the home, and that home visitors could model behavior for parents with 16 month – 4-year olds to help prepare their children for kindergarten.
The National Center now supports 127 local partner agencies in 15 states (including several new locations: San Jose CA, Detroit MI, and Charlotte NC), as well as in Canada, Ireland, England, Bermuda, Chile, and Singapore, working with 7,351 families through the Core one-on-one model and 185 family child care (FCC) providers and 1,102 families through our FCC model. The National Center provides all the training, technical assistance, and quality assurance to ensure that each site is replicating the model with fidelity so that all families receive the same high-quality services and achieve the same critical outcomes.
A majority of the 5 million children in the U.S. living in low-income families are unprepared for pre-k or kindergarten and enter school significantly behind their middle/higher income peers. This gap is even larger if you are low-income and black or Latino. When they reach kindergarten, low-income children, on average, have less than two age-appropriate books in their homes, and have had only 25 hours of one-on-one reading time compared to the over 1,100 hours middle-income children receive. In fact, the gap emerges well before kindergarten. By the time low-income children are three, they have heard 30 million fewer words than their middle-income peers. Research shows that daily reading and regular conversation are the foundation of early literacy and school success, and without this extensive exposure to language, reading materials, and conversation, children enter school behind. Children who enter school already on the wrong side of the gap are likely to remain behind in first grade and in third grade, and they are more likely than their “ready” peers to drop out of school.
ParentChild+ works with low-income families with preschool aged children. The program provides a critical component of the continuum of services needed to prepare underserved children for school success. While there is now national visibility and support for access to center-based programming for four-year-olds, including Head Start and pre-k, and remediation programs are available once children enter school, none of these efforts will fully bridge the preparation gap that begins at home for all children.
It provides a critical connection to early childhood education and kindergarten readiness that reaches parents and children together at home, before the children enter kindergarten. Providing parents with the skills, tools (including books and educational toys), and encouragement to read, play, and talk with their children, prepares parents to be their children’s first and most important teachers, creates literacy and language-rich home environments, and effectively prepares children for school success.
Our nationwide network of program sites hires community-based Early Learning Specialists, who share a linguistic and cultural background with the families with whom they work. One-on-one modeling by Early Learning Specialists in reading, conversation, and play activities for parents, other home providers, and their children levels the playing field, giving the most vulnerable a fair shot to succeed.
The Core model achieves this through four pillars:
- Reaching families where they are (30 min. twice weekly; total 92 visits): Home visits to families with young children for healthier development and educational success.
- Building trust: ParentChild+’s nationwide network of sites hires ELSs from within the communities where the families live. ELSs receive a minimum of 16 hours of training before beginning home visiting and at least two hours of ongoing training and supervision each week. They are bilingual in the families’ native languages, share an ethnic/cultural background with the families, and live and/or have previously worked in the community, making them uniquely suited to reach high-risk and isolated families.
- Promoting parent-child interaction (twice-weekly): ELS’s provide families with high quality learning tools and guidance to stimulate parent-child interaction, develop language, literacy, and social-emotional skills, and build school readiness.
Facilitating community connections: ELS’s become trusted advisors, connecting families to other community resources. The model becomes a vehicle for providing much broader services a family may need including, adult education, child care, early intervention and early childhood programs, employment training, health services, household needs (furniture, clothes, diapers), food and nutrition services, financial serves, community resources (ex. library card, local events), and housing assistance.
A ParentChild+ mother and daughter read a book with their ELS during a home visit.
A ParentChild+ motherand her children reading a book together
Through ParentChild+’s work in underserved and under-resourced communities across the country, staff have found that a substantial percentage of children are unable to access our services because the majority of their time is not spent at home with their parents, but rather in under-resourced family child care (FCC) settings. In fact, 25% of low-income children under the age of five are cared for in FCC settings. Unfortunately, 34% of licensed providers and 47% of unlicensed providers have no more than a high school education, and most research on the quality of FCC concludes that the conditions are adequate at best. Research shows that children in poor quality child care are more likely to be delayed in language and reading skills, and display more aggression toward other children and adults, while children in high quality child care demonstrate greater mathematical ability, greater thinking and attention skills, and fewer behavioral problems. These differences are true for children from a range of backgrounds but have particular significance for low-income children.
In response to needs identified by program partners and families, ParentChild+ has adapted its evidence-based model to extend similar supports to the diverse array of family child care settings, enabling the program to blanket underserved communities with school readiness supports and reach families who would otherwise have no access to these supports. The need comes from parents who were providers themselves or recognized that their children were in unsatisfactory care. Over ten years ago, a pilot cohort began; we codified the curriculum, and developed best practices. The ParentChild+ FCC model is now reaching 185 providers and 1,102 families in seven states (MA/NY/SC/PA/WA/NJ/MN).
The ParentChild+ FCC model addresses a systemic issue: low-income families rely on a distressed family child care system, including child care providers who are not experienced in building children’s school readiness skills. The model tackles the achievement gap by providing access to innovative and culturally relevant professional development. Family child care providers are successfully building school readiness skills and helping to transition children into future classrooms.
Over the course of the program, each provider receives two 45-minute visits/week for a minimum of 24 weeks (48 visits). The program includes:
- Like the Core model, ELSs come from the community and share a cultural/linguistic background, and serve as community mentors, connecting providers and the parents of the children they care for, to local resources.
- 12 books and toys that providers keep, and an array of art supplies for creative, age-appropriate activities.
- Books/guide sheets (total six) for each child in the provider’s care to bring home.
- Support for FCC providers in developing communication with parents, i.e. newsletters, phone calls, and workshops.
A key aspect of this model is the intentional engagement of parents, to build involvement with the provider and their child’s early education. Introducing literacy and verbal interaction to the home, empowers parents to be academic advocates and supporters while their children are in child care and throughout their child’s journey to school success.
The FCC model is designed to be flexible in order to address the variety of environments represented by home-based family child care. The ParentChild+ FCC model is an innovative professional development and enrichment approach for providers because it takes place in their homes, during their workday. Providers can practice new skills with the children in their care, under the mentorship of an ELS, rather than in a classroom setting, after a long day of work or on the weekends. By developing providers’ skill sets through hands-on experience utilizing enrichment materials and lots of activity ideas, the FCC model is preparing these home-based care providers to continue providing this enriched environment to subsequent children who move through their care, significantly extending the reach and impact of the program for many years to come.
ParentChild+FCC children and their provider working on a craft. The model offers activities
that are easily adaptable for groups of children of varying ages.
ParentChild+ families are challenged by obstacles including poverty, low literacy, geographic isolation, language and cultural barriers, and homelessness. Nationally: 100% of families are low income and 71% have annual incomes less than $20,000, 33% under $10,000; 76% home language other than English; 90% receive government aid — 39% Hispanic/Latino, 31% African American, 14% Caucasian, 12% Asian/Pacific Islander; 88% of children are less than five years old.
The model is free to families and providers, and is supported by state, county, city, school district, and housing authority funds and diverse foundations, United Way, corporate, and individual support.
Example: MA Updates
- In Massachusetts this year, we opened new site in the Gateway city of Malden, due to a generous grant from the Wellington Foundation Catalyst Fund.
- Due to the strong advocacy of our State House legislators, we received funds for FY19 to enroll 70-85 new families across MA.
- The Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) has renewed its grant to provide the ParentChild+ FCC model to 36 providers across the state. The Boston, Pittsfield, Leominster, Fitchburg, Worcester, and Northampton ParentChild+ sites will continue to work with providers in low-income neighborhoods, and the families of the children in their care.
A Demographic Snapshot for MA families enrolled in 2017-2018:
- 83% of children are not currently receiving other early childhood services
- 80% of families receive government aid, including WIC, health insurance, food stamps, and public housing subsidies
- 68% of families have incomes under $30,000
- 66% of parents were born outside of the United States
- 65% of children for whom English is a second language have English skills that are limited or non-existent
- Children served speak 30 different home languages
- 46% of children have “limited or non-existent” home language skills
- 40% Spanish/Hispanic, 13% Asian, 12% African-American, Multi-Racial 6%
- 25% of primary caregivers did not graduate from high school or receive a GED
- Staff – 38% multilingual, representing 10 languages, including: Spanish, Portuguese, Haitian-Creole, Cape Verdean, Bengali, German, Japanese, Cambodian, Somali, French
- 23% of children come from single parent households
Children who participate in ParentChild+ benefit from increased caregiver-child verbal interaction and exposure to high-quality learning materials. When they enter the classroom, they are better prepared than their socio-economic peers and are on the path to success. ParentChild+ has been proven to decrease by 50% the need for special education by grade 3, and increase high school graduation rates by 30% – to the same rate as middle income students.
Through a proprietary web-based Management Information System (MIS), ParentChild+ collects comprehensive demographic information on all families served, tracks program participation data, and captures outcomes on two standardized assessment tools, the Child Behavior Traits (CBT) scale and the Parent and Child Together (PACT) scale, to evaluate behavioral change in parents and their children. ELSs complete the assessments for each family at the beginning of the program, at the end of cycle one, at the start of cycle two, and when the child graduates from the program. The CBT evaluates multiple child behaviors to gauge school readiness. It includes – child can describe in words or sentences the pictures in a book; approaches play in a systematic way; understands and completes activities that are developmentally appropriate; and expresses appropriate feelings. The PACT evaluates the parents’ verbal and non-verbal interaction with their child. PACT items include- parent tries to converse with child; teaches child to perform age-appropriate activities; encourages child to perform activities independently; and verbalizes approval of the child. Quality implementation includes supporting as many families as possible in attaining a score of 3 or 4 (out of 5), “Often” or “Always.” Exhibiting these behaviors indicates that the child is ready for school success. The following results from the MA 2016-2018 cohort show significant positive change.
CBT Results: At the beginning of cycle one, 48% of children had an average score of “3” or “4”, as compared to post cycle 2 when the percentage grew to 82%.
PACT Results: At the beginning of cycle one, 64% of families had an average score of “3” or “4”, as compared to post cycle 2 when the percentage grew to 84%.
ORS Impact, a 3rd-party evaluator, completed a formal evaluation (conducted via standardized assessment tools; provider, ELSs, and parent interviews and surveys; and focus groups) of the FCC model. The evaluation utilized a modified version of the FCC Environment Rating Scale (FCCERS) and the Caregiver Interaction Scale (CIS). Assessments were conducted pre-and post-program to determine the frequency and quality of interaction in the care setting and the quality and developmentally appropriate implementation of school readiness activities. The outcomes of this evaluation are consistent with program data that ParentChild+ has been collecting since it began implementing the FCC model. The evaluation also examined the model’s impact on parent and child outcomes as follows:
- Demonstrated significant improvements across all assessments, showing increased quality and learning-richness of care environments (FCCERS) and improved provider-child interactions (CIS).
- FCCERS scores pre and post program show increase in all subscales including: Interactions, Listening and Talking, Activities and Provision for Parents.
- In self-reports, providers showed significant behavioral change post-program, and reported being positively impacted by the Program.
- ELSs reported positive changes in children throughout the course of the Program, including increased use of language, greater engagement and enthusiasm, and increased social-emotional maturity.
- Parents reported noticeable changes in their children’s skills across early literacy, executive function, and social-emotional domains.
- Reported frequent use of the guide sheets and books that were sent home.
- Reported substantially decreased screen time by post-program.
- Reported increased interactions with their children over the course of the Program, with greatest improvement in reading, verbal interactions, conversation, stories, imaginary play, music and movement from at least once a week to most days.
- ELSs and providers reported noticeable changes in parent engagement and creative approaches building the books and guide sheets sent home.
After the program, child care providers are more skilled and equipped to provide school readiness environments. Our providers have said “I feel like a teacher, not just a babysitter”. Many go on to further professional development, building long-term quality child care for their communities.
ParentChild+ELS and FCC provider reviewing an activity.
Provider is implenting an activity with a child in her care.
Recommendations for replication and/or adaptation
Start a ParentChild+ in your community. If there isn’t currently a ParentChild+ location near you, we make it possible to start a local program in your own community. Click below to learn how you can bring our proven outcomes to the families in your neighborhood.www.parentchildplus.org/start-location/
2018 Gala video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c0_3cGTAywA
Sample Guide Sheets:
⮚ Brown Bear Brown Bear https://www.dropbox.com/s/r1hpdn12s5xeecz/Brown-Bear-Brown-Bear.pdf?dl=0