AMARILLO, Texas (KVII) — The Parent-Child Home Program is gearing up for its third year in Amarillo. The program operates in two year increments and is designed to help children ages 2-4 years old and the parent/parents of the child to be prepared for success in school. The program started more than 50 years ago and has expanded to 14 states. Amarillo is the first city in the Lone Star State to offer the program through a non-profit called Mission Amarillo.
The program works with children who are challenged by poverty, limited education along with literacy and language barriers.
“A low income child will have heard 30 million fewer words spoken to them by the time they're three-years old than a higher income child will,” said Christy Jalbert, director of Parent-Child Home Program.
The program aims to enrich the relationship between children and parents. Jalbert tells ABC 7 News she kicked off the program after seeing first hand that children ages 2-4 and many parents need help in how to prepare for success in school.
“We’ve had kids start out not speaking at all, really not even knowing how to hold a book,” said Jalbert. “They have no interest in books but after two years in the program they love their books. The parents have learned how to talk to their kids and read to them and play with them.
During the first run in Amarillo, the program helped 29 kids. Less funding and a reduction from grants has the program only helping 18 kids this go round.
“We’re hoping members from the community that really care about the education of low or no income children will really want to see these children become successful,” said Jalbert. “Hopefully they will see how important it is to be successful in life and how this program helps them out.”
Mission Amarillo offers four programs all directed at helping families in the community. They view the Parent-Child Home Program as an investment for Amarillo with hundreds of other kids needing help from the program to get ready for school.
“These students are 50 percent less likely to need some level of special education, so they figure with the number of students in special education the less money a school district has to spend on special education," said Jeff Parsons, executive director of Mission Amarillo.
Parsons tells ABC 7 News when children are in the Parent-Child Home Program they're 50 percent more likely to measure as ready for kindergarten than their peers. The children also have a 30 percent higher graduation rate than their socio-economic peers.