Joshua Kellogg/The Daily TimesLorelei Rothe gets her hearing tested by Hope Trujillo with new equipment purchased with grant money for the Parents as
Joshua Kellogg/The Daily Times Lorelei Rothe gets her hearing tested by Hope Trujillo with new equipment purchased with grant money for the Parents as Teachers program on Wednesday.
FARMINGTON — The Parents as Teachers association hopes two grants will help them expand their efforts to empower parents to nurture and educate their young children.

Housed at Rocinante High School, Parents as Teachers was established as a parent education program to provide family support for those with children up to age five.

"The whole premise of this program is the parent is the child's first teacher and a lot of parents don't feel empowered to do that," Program Director Annie Smith said. "What we are doing is empowering them with knowledge, even knowledge they already have."

The organization provides an early intervention home program aimed at improving school readiness. Certified workers conduct home visits to perform health screenings and educate parents about their child's learning skills.

The program also organizes a "kinder" group for children three to five-years-old who visit the school with the goal of helping them develop skills for entry into kindergarten.

"Once they have had home visiting for a while, (parents) have those skills and they feel really empowered," Smith said.

To help grow their program, Parents as Teachers recently received two grants totaling $33,000 for purchasing equipment and to expanding group connection events.

The Daniels Fund provided $25,000, which will be used to offer more socialization events to educate parents beyond the home visits the workers conduct.

"It's going to help us continue to have our group connections (events), which continues to grow as we reach out into the community and expand our services to more families," Smith said.

Under the group connections umbrella, the program hosts meetings for teen parents, English as a Second Language classes and dinners for monolingual Spanish-speaking families. The grant will help cover expenses associated with the meetings like child-care and food. The program is looking for a part-time worker to provide child-care.

"A lot of parents don't know if they can make it to the meeting because they have to take care of their kiddo," Smith said. "We'll watch them and they'll be secure."

The second grant was from BHP Billiton for $8,000. It will be used to expand in-home hearing screenings.

Parent Educator Hope Trujillo said the new portable hearing screening equipment will help ease the burden on parents who may not have transportation to get such tests at the school.

"It can be hard for some parents to get transportation and teens don't have transportation," Trujillo said. "Other high-risk people in the community have trouble too and they can't come in to do the yearly screenings for hearing."

The new screeners reduce the testing equipment into a handheld device and the work of multiple machines into one.

"It's the newest in technology," Trujillo said. "Whereas audiologists needed two machines, this is able to do the two (hearing) tests."

If a child doesn't pass the first test, it automatically conducts a "refer" test without the child needing to be refitted for another testing machine.

"It's less traumatic for the child and quicker for the parent to get information," Trujillo said.