The Parent-Child Home Program, Inc.
April 25, 2011
When I responded to an article in the Boston Globe about 10 years ago, I had no idea how much my life would change and how much I would contribute to changes in the lives I touched as a Volunteer with the Parent Child Home Program. Through the years, I have been constantly amazed at how this rather simple, but very effective, weekly in-home visiting program affects the children and their parents. To come to their homes (humble as most in the program are) and engage the children and their parent(s) in reading, constructive play, and other activities most of us take so forgranted, has been truly life-changing - both for me and the little ones I visit. Over the years I have seen 3 1/2 year old twins of color fight through a home filled with addictions and, each week. enthusiastically welcome me and the projects I brought for them. Reading was almost non-existant in this house where the single mother could not read beyond 3rd grade level. By the time they entered kindergarten in a great school system (where they would have been projected to be delayed in comparison to their peers), they blossomed and became excellent students. They progressed through changes in their home location over the next few years (once even ending up in the foster-care system) and experienced going to 3 different schools during the 2nd grade. Finally moving in with their elderly grandmother in a project, I continued to follow them and expand on the PCHP program as they survived one upheavel after another in their lives. Even through this most disfunctional life, they continued to pursue excellence in the one place they could succeed no matter what was going on in the home - SCHOOL. Each year we celebrated our friendship, their goals and all the successes they had experienced. We reminiced about our early days when they would wait for me to arrive and wonder what I had brought for them to read, work on or play with that day. Simple books became more advanced and simple workbooks became the real joy for them at the end of each session. I was continually amazed at their focus for such young children and made a vow to see them through their lives to high school graduation and beyond. In spite of a continued disfunctional home life, they breezed through elementary and middle school. Now finishing their freshman year in high school, they are in predominately honors classes and very proud of what they have accomplished, so far. College is a definite goal and the high school teachers are committed to seeing that these girls get the chance they have worked so hard for since they started in the PCHP program those many years ago. This is but one case, of so many, where the little children and their parents have welcomed me and the PCHP program each week. There can be no doubt that the ideals of the program play a large part in the future success of these participants. Without PCHP in the twins lives, I doubt they would have achieved such success as they have, to date.
I can sight other examples where my involvement with the parent(s), in addition to the child in the program, gave the family a focus they might not have had, a goal to work toward and/or a life change that might not have been achieved without the PCHP in their lives. We don't go into a home with the ideal of making the home any different, but with a goal of bringing a quest for knowledge and education to the children through the parent's involvement. Having that goal passed to them is what the program hopes to achieve by bringing a thirst for learning via our weekly visits.
I know of no program that accomplishes so much for such a minimal cost per child/family. This is the optium return for every dollar invested and benefits the entire community, not just the families involved. The direction and focus relayed to each of the participating families means that the communities where they live should have lower "extra" educational costs than if the children come into kindergarten totally unprepared for the expectations of school. The PCHP child has been given a gift that we hope will be re-gifted through their lifetime.
I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...
the various families I have visited over the years. i.e.- Seeing a mother rise out of a severe depression to take charge of her life and of her family; helping a teenage sibling get a job at the local supermarket, thereby helping the family better afford their living expenses; seeing a little boy recognize that he could operate within the bounds of good behavior in spite of the examples he saw from his brothers - all were really joyful experiences for me!
Ways to make it better...
If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...
try to "get the PCHP word out" more publicly, so that donor organizations would choose to support the effort to bring this type of very early education to as many of our most deprived and vulnerable children as possible. We should try to do as much follow-up on our families, as possible, in order to document the continued progress through the school years and beyond. This would entail a program which, to my knowledge, is not now in existance.
Volunteer & During one of my assignments, I helped a resettled Human Rights Watch immigrant family from war-torn Chechnyna assimilate into our local town, schools,and customs. I began visiting the 3 year old (who did not speak a word of English) and found common gro.