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Waco ISD Parents as Teachers helps families lay solid foundation for education

Parent Educators are a key component of the Waco ISD Parents as Teachers program. They work with parents in preparing their children for educational success.

Yuri Tumlinson, Desireé Salazar, Anita Henderson, Pauli Ramos, Regina Cotton

PAT is a free parent education and family support program serving parents and guardians, who live within the Waco ISD attendance zone, throughout pregnancy until their child enrolls in preschool at 4 years of age. The goal of WISD’s parent educators is to support the parent or guardian in fulfilling the role as their child’s first and most important teacher.

The PAT program assists parents and guardians in understanding child development and connects them to resources to make healthy choices for their family. Through customized, personal visits to each family, we look at each child’s development and talk about the challenges parents face. Topics include family dynamics that impact each child’s development, as well as parenting values and decisions, and building strong protective factors to keep families and children healthy, strong and resilient.

The History of Waco ISD Parents as Teachers

Waco ISD joined the PAT National Affiliate Program in December 1988. Waco ISD PAT operated under the national program 1988-2012, being a full-curriculum user and providing screenings and all required PAT services to families.

Waco ISD PAT received the affiliate certification in October 2013, which led to the completion of the Quality Endorsement and Improvement Process to become a Blue Ribbon Affiliate.

In order to receive Blue Ribbon status, WISD PAT had to complete a comprehensive self-study and review process that demonstrated they met or exceeded PAT essential requirements, along with at least 75 of the 100 quality standards.

Parents as Teachers affiliates are required to engage in the Quality Endorsement and Improvement Process in their fourth year of implementation and every five years thereafter.

Waco ISD PAT completed their fourth year of implementation in 2016 and were awarded their Blue Ribbon Affiliate standing in October 2017. Waco ISD PAT achieved all of the PAT essential requirements and 99 of the 100 quality standards. Since 2017, Waco ISD PAT has maintained its Blue Ribbon status and are starting its fifth year with this standing in July. This means that during the 2021-2022 school year Waco ISD will again complete the Quality Endorsement Process.

The PAT curriculum builds strong communities by connecting families to community resources to help meet the needs of the families and provide parents the opportunity to reach goals they have set for themselves or their family.

Parent Educators work with each family to complete regular home visits during the child’s earliest years of life, prenatal until school entry. The PAT curriculum is evidence-based and more than a dozen outcome studies have been conducted on the effects of the PAT model.

Outcome studies have shown the following results from the PAT model:

  • Children’s developmental delays and health problems are detected early;

  • Children enter school ready to learn and the achievement gap is narrowed;

  • Children achieve school success into the elementary grades;

  • Parents improve parenting knowledge and skills;

  • Parents become more involved in their child’s learning;

  • Families are more likely to promote children’s language and literacy, and

  • Child abuse and neglect is prevented.

The Waco ISD PAT program is divided into four integrated components, which are part of the PAT Model.

Personal Visits:

Personal visits are designed to assist parents/guardians as they recognize and expand upon their strengths and parenting techniques. Parent educators coach parents in developing their own observation skills and the ability to respond through activities which strengthen parent-child interactions. Each personal visit is designed specifically for the family in order to meet the individual needs of the family and children. During personal visits parent educators work with families to set and achieve individual goals, provide needed resources, and partner with parents/guardians to identify and enhance parenting behaviors.

Group Connections:

Group connections are planned at least monthly to provide time and opportunity for families to interact with other families. Group connections also assist with building the parent/guardians involvement in their children’s education. PAT group connections must address topics related to three areas of emphasis — parent-child interaction, development-centered parenting, and family well-being.


Child development screenings can result in early identification of developmental delays and improved health and development of young children. Screenings provide the opportunity for parent/guardians and parent educators to access the child’s individual developmental stage to ensure the child progresses and enters school ready to learn. The parent educator partners with each family to complete child screenings as parent/guardians have an active role in the screening of their child/children.

The child screenings conducted by WISD parent educators and parent/guardians are:

  • School Readiness Developmental Milestones

  • Ages and Stages Questionnaire – Developmental

  • Ages and Stages Questionnaire – Social Emotional

  • Health Record

  • Hearing and Vision Screenings

Resource Network:

Waco ISD parent educators actively foster connections between the families they serve and community organizations. Resource connections are provided according to the family’s individual needs, which assist with closing the gap in services and links families to the support they need.

Parent educators consider the family’s home language and culture when connecting them to community resources and assist them in preparation for that initial contact. Parent educators follow up with families to gauge the outcome of the recommended resource and help the family address any barriers that may have arisen.

2021–2022 School Year

Waco ISD PAT will continue working to ensure that children and parents/guardians are school ready and achieve success when the child enters school. We currently have two English-speaking parent educators and two bilingual Spanish-speaking parent educators.

If you are interested in hearing more about our program or know someone who may be interested please contact us at the information listed below. We look forward to sharing more information with the Waco Community in the future, we hope to hear from you soon.


Anita Henderson – Lead Parent Educator

254-755-9473 ext. 2181


Pauluisa Ramos – Bilingual Parent Educator


Gwen James is director of early childhood education for Waco ISD.


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