FARMINGTON — The Farmington Municipal School District's Parents as Teachers program received two grants to funds its work and expand its curriculum.
The program, which is based out of Rocinante High School, received more than $373,000 in grant funds to pay its four employees for 18 months and to purchase curriculum materials for teen parents and monolingual Spanish speaking parents.
Parent educator Lisa Renner said the goal of Parents as Teachers is to focus on development-centered parenting for families and provide the district's students and parents more knowledge and teach them better practices.
"We feel well supported and we're trying to provide parents with support, and we're glad they were able to come through and provide us with the ability to help the community this way," Renner said.
The program offers a support group for teen parents and personal visits at the homes of teen parents to instruct them on developmentally appropriate activities.
Educators in the program also host meetings to discuss kindergarten readiness and parenting tips. At a monthly luncheon for teen parents, a speaker addresses topics like children's nutrition.
The program received a $367,155 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to help it operate through the end of the 2014-2015 school year.
A grant from oil company BHP Billiton for $6,000 will allow the program to purchase teaching materials for teen parents and offer a weekly English as a second language class. The class, which is taught by parent educator Beverly Martinez, is for parents who wish to expand their knowledge of the English language to help their children with homework and class projects.
"I teach the parents how to help their children with reading and math," Martinez said. "So it's not just learning English, it's also to help their children with literacy and math."
Martinez will spend a portion of the grant on books the students can use in class and take home and a set of books for her to use while teaching.
For teen parents, Renner is looking to purchase video programs and books to educate teen parents about the effects of drugs and alcohol on the fetus and different parenting techniques and discipline.
"I've never actually had a teen parenting curriculum, and there is one I'm now going to purchase," Renner said.
Renner said one item she plans to buy is an electronic baby modeled after an infant affected by drugs, complete with the facial features, screaming and shaking of a newborn who has been affected by drugs.
Both Martinez and Renner said they have seen an increase in parents looking for additional help with their children. The grant, they said, will help them continue their support for families in the community.
"We want to keep the momentum that we have built and try and dig in and find where the needs are and support the local families are already working with," Renner said.