PAT Program Is A Hit With Kids

Judy Kramer
County Reporter
Parents in the Warsaw School District expecting a child, and/or having children under the age of five, are eligible for a free educational program through the Parents As Teachers (PAT) program. PAT offers parenting education, developmental screenings, group connections, play groups, local resources, and free books for the family. The program is administered by Tammy Thomas, Supervisor/Coordinator and Parent Educator, and Chanda Chiles, a Parent Educator. 
“There are presently 70 families enrolled in the PAT program in the Warsaw School District,” said Thomas. “This number is a little lower than in the past, but the intensity of our support has risen. The main component of PAT is home visits where we build relationships with parents and children, and offer services according to individual needs. The parents choose how much they want to participate. A free book is given to the family at each home visit. Every school in the state of Missouri is required to offer PAT and the program is funded through the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the local district.”
Thomas said that research conducted by the PAT National Center has led to the conclusion that the higher the intensity of support to PAT participants, the more they feel supported. When they feel a high level of support, the better the chance they will achieve their parenting goals.
If parents want to participate in PAT, they can call 660-438-0005 and someone will get in contact with them or message through the Warsaw Parents as Teachers page on Facebook. On the first visit with the family, there will be enrollment forms to fill out and children will receive a baseline screening to determine if they re developmentally on target, which includes developmental, social, emotional, dental, basic hearing and vision screening. If necessary children will be assisted in getting glasses or other services. 
There are a variety of activities scheduled for PAT participants that are educational, fun and offer a chance to socialize with families whose children are close in age. The activities are either group connections or play groups. Group connections are for socializing with other families and there is a themed activity. Play groups are held four times a year and are scheduled by season or holiday.
Most recently, on November 29, the group connection was called Make It Take It night and its theme was centered around making toys from recycled trash. The idea was to show parents that they can work on development without spending a lot of money. Warsaw High School students enrolled in child development classes assisted in the set up, clean up and helped children make toys. Other scheduled events will start with the Winter Play Group, December 19, 9:30 to 10:30 AM, at the Warsaw Library. The event will feature literacy and activities that focus on winter.  
All PAT participants will receive a free book. A Valentine Party will be held on February 14, from 10 to 11 AM at the First United Methodist Church. Children will make and exchange Valentine cards and will get a free book. On March 7, from 6 to 7 PM, Messy Play will take place at North School. Children will participate in sensory activities that involve play dough, spaghetti and more. On April 23, from 10 to 11 AM, there will be Roll-N-Read at Drake Harbor. They will be partnering with school children to hear books being read. PAT participants will get a free book. On April 30, from 9:30 to 10:30 AM, the children will have a Park Playgroup at City Park. They will have a great opportunity to enjoy the outdoors playing and having a great time. Get Your Motor Running will take place May 2 from 6 to 7 PM, at the Warsaw High School football field. There will be balls, exercise equipment, balloons and lots of fun.
Any family with children under the age of five is welcome to attend the PAT events to observe and enjoy the activities.  However, only those children enrolled in PAT will receive free books.
For children who will be four by July 31, Pre-K screening will take place May 7 through 9, by appointment only.