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Accountability, Accreditation and Assessments

Goddard Parents as Teachers program earns National Blue Ribbon distinction

Goddard Parents as Teachers program earns National Blue Ribbon distinction

Melinda Eddington joined Goddard Unified School District 265’s Parents as Teachers (PAT) program before her son, Jordan, was born in 2012. 

“It was definitely a blessing because I probably wouldn’t have gotten him referred as soon as I did,” Eddington said. 

Jordan wasn’t progressing as he should have been, so he underwent a developmental test at 9-months-old. He was then referred to Rainbows United of Sedgwick County, an organization that provides services for kids with special needs, birth through age 21, and their families.  

“Having that support system there, even if your child may not have special needs, if something comes up you have support and know your child is where they need to be,” Eddington said. 

PAT is an evidence-based home visiting model, delivered by trained professionals. Programs, or affiliates, follow the essential requirements of the model which provide minimum expectations for program design, infrastructure and delivery. There are four parts to the PAT model: 

  • Personal visits (consistent and planned home visits focused on family and child development) 
  • Group connections (group activities which connect families engaged in PAT) 
  • Resource connections (connecting to resources available in the community) 
  • Child and caregiver screening (family well-being, vision, hearing, child development, etc.) 


These services support families in achieving outcomes such as increasing parent knowledge of early childhood development; providing early detection of developmental delays; preventing child abuse and neglect; increasing children’s school readiness and success; and strengthening community capacity and connectedness. 

“Parents are their child’s first and best teacher,” said Susan Ridgway, Goddard PAT coordinator. 

Ridgway has served as a PAT coordinator for the Goddard Parents as Teachers program since its initiation during the 2007-2008 school year.  

“We literally had nothing to start off with,” Ridgway said. “It wasn’t something the district had or had experience with.” 

She spent the first several months researching other PAT programs and making connections with them to learn about their successes and what they needed to improve on. The next step was getting families involved with group meetings. 

“I didn’t have much of a budget, so I went to yard sales to get materials and toys,” Ridgway said. “Since I didn’t have a big classroom, I used conference spaces in the district.” 

By the end of its first year in operation, Goddard PAT had 69 families on the waitlist.  

Eddington was on that waitlist when her oldest son, now 18 years old, was a baby. When her daughter was born three years later, she said she didn’t bother trying to sign her up. Four years later, when her youngest son, Jordan, was born, she tried again and reached out to Goddard PAT and finally joined. 

Ridgway said she learned to be careful about promoting the program until she was able to expand it in 2012, when two paraeducators joined the staff. 

On Thursday, April 18, Goddard USD 265 celebrated the district’s Parents as Teachers National Blue Ribbon distinction. The event also was meant to celebrate past and current Parents as Teacher families and inform future participants.  

Now 11-years-old, Jordan, and his mom attended the celebration.  

“It was awesome to talk about our experience and give encouragement for everyone to share,” Eddington said. “First-time moms need to know about this group because you don’t know what you don’t know. Having home visits, I would recommend everybody do it. It’s important to have those people on your side who are trying to help you navigate.” 

Free books were handed out to families and children during the celebration. 

“Early literacy is so very important,” Ridgway said. “Our program fosters this with hundreds of books handed out over the years to help our families build their own library at home and encourage reading to their children every day.” 

Goddard PAT earned the Blue Ribbon distinction through its successful completion of the Quality Endorsement and Improvement Process (QEIP). Once every five years, each PAT affiliate connects with the Parents as Teachers National Center for an in-depth review of program policies and procedures, file review, and review of programs operations to ensure they are meeting 21 Essential Requirements (minimum standards) and 81 Quality Standards (highest quality standards).  

Affiliates who earn the QEIP endorsement (referred to as Blue Ribbon) are recognized by the Parents as Teachers National Center as exemplary affiliates, delivering high-quality evidence-based home visiting services to children and families. 

“We’re not perfect, but we do what it takes to meet our families where they’re at and help them where they need to go,” Ridgway said. 

Desi Wedan has three children ranging from three to seven years of age. She joined Goddard’s PAT program when her oldest was an infant. 

“The transition into motherhood brings a lot of questions,” Wedan said. “All these uncertainties that come with the first baby can be overwhelming and cause unnecessary stress on a momma. Even working in early childhood education earlier in my life, once it’s your child there will always be questions.” 

Kathleen Timmermeyer, a parent educator for Goddard PAT, was assigned to Wedan’s family and would visit them from the comfort of their home, providing activities to work on, while encouraging them respectfully to work on certain areas and praising them for doing a good job and excelling in other areas. 

“She would insightfully answer my questions or concerns I had, and just overall made me feel like I was doing a good job,” Wedan said of Timmermeyer. “What a great resource for new moms. It’s truly one of a kind!” 

She also met several moms during PAT meetups and was able to connect with them, some of whom she is still friends with seven years later. 

“Even as my children are phasing out of their program age ranges, I look forward to watching the program advance and grow for our community,” she said. 

The only qualifier to joining Goddard PAT is the family must have a baby/child in the school district. 

“Those first three years are the most prominent for development and catching and capturing,” Ridgway said. “Kids don’t come with directions. If you’re not sure about your children’s development, PAT is the way to go. We’re going to meet you where you’re at and follow up with you. We’re still here for you.” 

The Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) is the state office for Parents as Teachers (PAT), supporting local programs in implementing the PAT affiliate model. For more information, click here. To view a list of Kansas PAT affiliates and if they have earned the Blue Ribbon endorsement, click here

Posted: Apr 25, 2024,
Comments: 0,
Tags: PAT

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