Parents as Teachers permits affiliates to offer additional strategies (beyond the four core model components) or to make model adaptations that may be needed to best address families’ needs at the local level. For example, implementation may be modified to be culturally responsive, directed to special populations, or offered in conjunction with other early childhood programs as determined by community need.
Adaptations of the Parents as Teachers model are available for highly rural and/or indigenous populations such as aboriginal populations in Australia and Canada, and numerous American Indian tribes.
Examples of adaptations include:
- Approaches that honor family and community values
- People who are included in the visits
- Addressing needs of low-literate or illiterate parents
Examples of model elements that can be adapted include:
- Elements of training
- Materials used during visits to encourage parent–child interactions (for example, use of materials in the home to create toys and games)
- Pace of parenting education
- Extent to which verbal and non-verbal communication strategies are used
In New Zealand, the Ministry of Social Development’s Family and Community Services adapted Parents as Teachers into a program known in New Zealand as Parents as First Teachers (PAFT)*. The ministry contracted with community organizations to implement PAFT and managed, coordinated, and monitored the program. When developing the model, PAFT (New Zealand) negotiated with the Parents as Teachers National Center in the United States to adapt the Parents as Teachers model to meet the needs of New Zealand families, including Māori and Pasifika families, indigenous populations of New Zealand and the Pacific Island nations. Families with children from birth to age 3 who were at risk of poor educational outcomes were served by PAFT (New Zealand) through home visits, developmental screenings, linkages to other community services, and group meetings. PAFT (New Zealand) used two curricula: the Parents as Teachers’ Born to Learn curriculum and the Āhuru Mōwai curriculum. The latter was developed for PAFT (New Zealand) and was based on Māori traditional beliefs and child-rearing practices. PAFT (New Zealand) materials were available in English, Māori, and seven Pasifika languages.
Another adaptation of Parents as Teachers, called Baby Family and Child Education (Baby FACE), integrates Native language and culture into Parents as Teachers services for high-needs American Indian families from pregnancy through kindergarten. Baby FACE is the home visiting component of FACE, which is an early childhood family literacy model designed for American Indian families. In addition to home visits every one to two weeks, Baby FACE services include routine health and developmental screenings, monthly parent group meetings, and referrals to needed services. Baby FACE has been implemented in several reservations throughout the continental United States. Parent educators, typically members of the tribal community, must have a high school diploma or general equivalency degree (GED), and be actively working toward obtaining an associate’s degree in child development. Baby FACE uses the Parents as Teachers curriculum, adapted to each community’s culture.
*As of 2016, implementation support is no longer available for PAFT (New Zealand).