The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

February 15, 2013

New program to help families of two and three year old Union County children

The Daily Item

— Union County parents can now benefit from a family literacy program for their two and three year old children. STEP, Inc., based in Williamsport, will administer the Parent-Child Home Program (PCHP) for 24 Union County families. The Parent-Child Home Program (PCHP), under STEP, Inc.’s Early Learning Pathway, is a home visiting program that prepares 2- and 3-year-old children for school success by increasing language and literacy skills, enhancing social-emotional development, and strengthening the parent-child relationship. The program is free to participating families.

An innovative program shown by research to help children succeed in school and improve high school graduation rates, the Parent-Child Home Program promotes the child’s language development during twice weekly, 30 minute home visits. Trained Home Visitors visit families with 2 and 3-year old children and help parents realize their role as their child’s first and most important teacher. The Home Visitor brings a new book or educational toy as a gift to the family each week and shows parents a variety of ways to use the book or toy to promote the child’s language, literacy and interaction skills.    

These simple 30-minute sessions are scheduled at the parents’ convenience so parents can participate even if they are working, in school, or in training. There are no specific tasks for the parent or the child other than participating in the home visits. Home Visitors visit the families for two school years.

Program participants show significant gains in high school graduation rates. A 10-year study of the effects of the program found that 84% of participating children went on to graduate from high school, compared to 54% of a children who did not participate. New research on the Parent-Child Home Program is providing evidence that a relatively inexpensive intervention (approximately $5,000 per child over a two-year period) can give young children the boost they need to perform well academically. Reading and math scores for program graduates are above national norms in elementary school.

The Greater Susquehanna Valley United Way funded STEP to serve 24 Union County families yearly for three years. STEP has operated the Parent-Child Home Program in Lycoming and Clinton Counties since 2002. STEP’s Parent-Child Home Program Home Visitors began visiting enrolled Union County families in February and still has some openings. Interested parents are urged to call (800) 346-3020 toll free or 326-0587 to enroll their child.