CALHOUN COUNTY, S.C. — Helping parents in the Midlands is the goal of the "Teachers as Parents" program which aims at making sure children are ready for school.
According to Calhoun County First Steps, the only childcare option available is the Head Start program. Because enrollment is limited, parents are often left to prepare their child for school themselves. Virginia Newman says that's when the "Parents as Teachers" program can help.
“We definitely need parents to be their child’s teacher and we know that parenting starts while the child is still in the parent’s womb," said executive director Virginia Newman.
Newman explains, local educators visit the families' homes and teach parents about fundamental learning for their child. The program is offered to families which are deemed high risk environments such as teen parents, low income, or history of substance abuse.
“Calhoun County is 100% rural and the majority of the children in school here are on free or reduced lunch so there are a lot of low income families," she said.
Whitney Keller is a single mother who has been in the program for 13 years.
“I’ve learned parenting is not perfect. No one is perfect at doing it because there is no such thing as a perfect parent. You just kind of go with the flow," said Keller.
They are given books to read to their children and are offered developmental screenings. Families are able to connect with each other in group sessions and receive additional help from partnering agencies like Headstart, DSS, and DHEC.
“With the program, I felt way more comfortable expressing issues that I had because if you need something or scared to ask for it they make it okay to say I need help," said Keller.
The program is looking to serve 20 more families in Calhoun County. For more information, visit their website.