Parents as Teachers (PAT)®
Last updated: October 2019
The theory of change for the Parents as Teachers model is that affecting parenting knowledge, attitudes, behaviors and family well-being impacts the child’s developmental trajectory.
The overall Parents as Teachers model is grounded in Urie Bronfenbrenner’s Human Ecology Theory and Family Systems Theory. The home visits focus on three areas of emphasis—parent-child interaction, development-centered parenting, and family well-being. Parents as Teachers is informed by additional theories including developmental parenting, attribution theory, and self-efficacy theory.
The Parents as Teachers model has four components that all affiliates are required to provide.
(1) One-on-one home (or personal) visits, during which the home visitor (referred to as a parent educator) visits the family in its home or a mutually agreeable alternative location. The parent educator delivers the majority of visits in the home. The Parents as Teachers model refers to some visits as “personal” visits because they can take place in environments other than the home when it is unsafe or impossible to have visits in the home. For example, some families may be homeless or have unstable housing, may be experiencing intimate partner violence, or may have infants in the neonatal intensive care unit. To be receptive to these families’ needs, home visits can occur in transitional housing shelters, hospitals, or in a safe location outside of the home.
(2) Group connections, which are planned events, such as family activities, ongoing parenting groups, or presentations, facilitated by a parent educator to share information about parenting and child development. Group connections are also designed to encourage families to share common experiences and to foster peer learning.
(3) Health, hearing, vision, and developmental screenings for children.
(4) Linkages and connections for families to needed resources.
The Parents as Teachers model serves families with high-needs characteristics. Parents as Teachers affiliates select the specific characteristics and eligibility criteria of the target population they plan to serve. Such eligibility criteria might include children with special needs, families at risk for child abuse, low-income families, teen parents, first-time parents, immigrant families, low-literate families, parents with mental health or substance use issues, or families experiencing homelessness or unstable housing.
The Parents as Teachers model is designed to serve families throughout pregnancy through kindergarten entry. Families can enroll at any point along this continuum. Curriculum materials provide resources to continue services through the kindergarten year if an affiliate chooses to do so.