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PAT program increases school readiness

Staff writer

Speaking at the Marion County Interagency meeting Friday in Hillsboro, Lori Soo Hoo, director of Marion County Parents As Teachers, said teaching parents how to interact with their children can reduce the need for special education services later on and prevent “at risk” behaviors inside and outside of school.

PAT serves parents with children ages newborn to 3 years. Representatives visit 85 to 90 families each month throughout the county, impacting 100 to 110 children.

PAT informs families of numerous resources available to them including screening, financial assistance, food banks, SRS services, Prairie View services, and library programs.

A resource library of books and educational tools at Hillsboro Elementary School is also available to them.

A waiting list exists for those wanting to be included in home visits. The number of families enrolled is distributed among the five school districts according to school populations.

According to Soo Hoo, other counties admire Marion County for the partnerships that exist between various agencies and public service ministries. They work together to prevent duplication and provide comprehensive care.

PAT provides classes on parenting at the Marion County Learning Center in Hillsboro for students who attend the center.

Funding for Parents As Teachers in Marion County comes from school districts and the Kansas Department of Education.

Additional funding through a federal early childhood block grant allows the local PAT to provide additional time and services for certain cases.

Representative Bob Brookens, who attended the Interagency meeting, received profuse thanks from attendees for his part in passing the 1 percent sales tax.

He said it is a fair tax because everybody pays it including travelers, the homeless, and undocumented workers.

He said the first budget package the legislature considered did not have a firm underpinning.

“With this budget, we are paying for what we are doing,” he said.

Last modified May 20, 2010

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