Submitted by Jere VanMeter, LMFT, Coordinator, Parents as Teachers of Kittitas County, Ellensburg, WA -
I came here several years ago from Los Angeles where they had roughly 50,000 children in the foster care system. This was heartbreaking at best!
Let's not wait until it comes to this point. Let's not make the mistakes of the past. Now is the time for the state legislature and state leadership to be a good neighbor and to care for their people. Don't shut down the Parents As Teachers programs ( funded by the Council of Children & Families). This is "the only program that works" for our families' parent education.
I for one voted for Governor Gregoire as she appeared to be the most concerned about the children in this state. As a social worker/parenting educator/licensed marriage & family therapist, I see the dire needs of Central Washington's families firsthand. We have Moms and Dads who are fighting depression trying to raise children with disabilities. Kittitas Valley is known as "the Valley of Suicide". Without our researched based program recently promoted by Rand's Promising Practices as "the only program that works", the folks in Central Washington would be without any early intervention for their young children.
We are one of a kind, home visiting program to families with children prenatal to five, promoting literacy, giving free books, providing screening and referrals to needed resources, and supporting each family in the areas where they need help.
I am trusting the leadership of this state to continue to be the voice of reason to care for the people of this state. Prevention will save the school system twice the amount it would cost them to provide special education to the delayed student where early intervention would have been the wiser more cost-effective road to take.
I remember Tucker who climbed up onto his depressed Mother's lap and shoved a book into her line of vision and said, "READ, MOMMY!" He began to thrive with the simple intervention of supportive weekly home visits. His Mother began to follow through with referrals to counseling and taking her medication. Soon she began to cook for the children. She began to meet with other parents for playtimes. Tucker used to beg me to stay. Now he thrives in school where he loves to share his books. Disaster averted! This is only one of hundreds of families that have been helped across this state.
These problems are going to accelerate without funding. Let us be wise. Parents As Teachers is known internationally for best practice and for being a researched based program "that works". So why not help OUR families in OUR great state?