TIVERTON, RI – Every new parent needs a support system -- someone they can turn to for information on parenting and child development. Up until recently, the Tiverton Parents as Teachers (PAT) Program has provided 200 local families with a very 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 Education
- Information on what to look for and expect as your child grows and develops
- Weekly Drop In and Play Sessions at the Pocasset School Pre-School Classroom
- 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 this year. Thanks to the generous support of a $2,800 grant from the Tiverton Prevention Coalition, the weekly Drop In and Play Sessions at Pocasset School will continue. But until more funding is secured, the Home Visits for new parents and informational/educational workshops for parents have stopped.
“I am thankful that we’ve been able to hold on to the Drop In and Play Session,” said Certified Parent Educator Joan Macomber. “Without the funding from the Prevention Coalition we wouldn’t have been able to make this one part of the program happen,” she said. Macomber added that it’s her wish to get the program back to where it was and reinstate the Home Visits and Parent Information Workshops. “Parents as Teachers has been a wonderful resource for so many families for the past four years. I want to be able to continue providing that resource,” Macomber said.
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, the adults enjoyed a chance to socialize as well.
Some were relatively new to the Drop In and Play 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. While others like Rhianna Gardener and her four-year-old son Aiden have been coming for a while and enjoy the interaction with others.
Mariam Bebawy and her three-year-old daughter Mirolla were back for their second visit to the Drop In and Play session. “My friend told me about this, so we thought we’d try it. We both really liked it. So we came again,” Bebawy said as Mirolla put together a puzzle. Bebawy said Mirolla enjoys the play sessions and she also likes meeting other parents who have children that are the same age.
Theresia Joy and her 11-month-old daughter Lilia are big supporters of the Tiverton PAT Program. “I’m from New Jersey and was familiar with the work with Parents as Teachers Program has done there. So when I had my daughter, I looked into whether or not there was a PAT Program in Tiverton,” Joy explained. She said Joan’s Home Visits have been extremely helpful. “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,” Joy added.
Martha Higham and her 4-year-old daughter Genaveve have been participating in the Tiverton PAT Program since Genaveve was five months old. “I was looking for an organization to help me understand how to raise her and also meet other mothers in Tiverton with young children. The Parents as Teachers Program was the answer to many of my needs,” Higham said. “When Joan visited our home, she answered any questions I had about developmental, emotional and social issues. She always brought numerous handouts on activities to share with Genaveve, books appropriate for her age, and activities for Genaveve to do. She truly enriched our life.”
As the Tiverton PAT Program Certified Parent Educator, Joan Macomber also makes it her mission to help parents connect to the other community resources that are available, such as:
- New parent support groups
- Accredited childcare programs
- Food, heating and housing assistance
- Early learning programs, local libraries, children’s museums, etc.
- Recreational offerings
- Family health and wellness programs
“We started this program in 2008 to provide families with a place they could come to with questions about children’s development,” Macomber said. The Tiverton PAT Program does that with personal visits, group connections, child screenings and resource networks. “We’ve made great strides in that short time frame. Let’s keep it going,” she added.
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. Checks can be made payable to the Tiverton Education Foundation, a registered 501c3 organization supporting youth programs in our community. 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 Tiverton Parents as Teachers Program, please contact Joan Macomber at 683-0166. The Tiverton PAT Program Weekly Drop In and Play sessions, which are held at Pocasset School from 9:30 to 11 a.m., are scheduled for the following dates:
- November 5, 19 and 26
- December 3, 10 and 17
- January 7, 14 and 28
- February 4, 11 and 25
- March 4, 11, 18, 25
- April 1, 8, 22 and 29
- May 6, 13 and 20