Parents as Teachers help Muscatine families start off right

MUSCATINE, Iowa–Raising a young child, especially for the first time, can leave parents feeling unsure and full of questions. Parents as Teachers, a non-profit organization working in Muscatine since 2008, works to relieve parents’ anxiety and to help them feel confident that they have gotten their child off to a good start. Parent Educator Kimberly McNeely explained that Parents as Teachers strives, “to support families in helping their children develop and understand what’s going on.”

Parents as Teachers will work with any family with an income at or below 125% of the poverty line, or with an older child qualifying for free or reduced price lunch, at no cost to them. Families may start the program as soon as they find out they have a baby on the way and can continue receiving services until the child starts preschool.

Through weekly or biweekly meetings, depending on the family’s unique needs, a parent educator will come visit them at their home. During the home visit, the educator and parents will discuss a relevant developmental topic. The parent education will also bring an activity along for the parents (and any other caregivers who would like to join them) to do with their child to help them work towards developmental goals in a fun and collaborative way.

During meetings, parent educators also check up on the wellbeing of the family and help connect them to additional services that could benefit them. Parents as Teachers works with the Mississippi Bend AEA to refer children who may have a learning or other disability to get additional support, area food pantries to help provide supplemental food, mental health services to address any needs parents or their children may have, and the Muscatine Diaper Bank, to provide free diapers of all sizes to families in need. “We try to find services for anything they need,” stressed McNeely.

Since coming to Muscatine in 2008, Parents as Teachers has helped many local families overcome challenges and prepare their children for success in school and beyond. Parents as Teachers, based out of the Muskie Early Learning Center, currently has two parent educators and serves 12 families. However, the program currently has the capacity to handle up to 25 families and has the ability to add additional parent educators as needed.

With many young families just starting their parenting journey, McNeely encourages anyone interested in learning more about Parents as Teachers and enrolling themselves and their children in it to contact Alison Daufeldt by calling her at 563-263-4998. “As parents, we all have doubts and worries–am I doing things right for my child?” observed McNeely. “Parents as Teachers is very validating,” she added.

Through her work as a parent educator, McNeely has truly valued the opportunities she has had to help parents learn about and address different developmental goals for their children and to see them reach those goals through perseverance, attention, and hard work. “I love seeing families succeed,” she said. “No matter what their goals are, I love to see them succeed.” By welcoming even more families to get involved with Parents as Teachers, McNeely hopes to help more families give their children the best childhoods they can have.