Bond proposes more funding to expand Parents as Teachers

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Sen. Kit Bond on Tuesday proposed a $500 million federal funding plan to expand the Parents as Teachers program, which uses experienced parents as home-based teachers for pregnant women and new parents.

Bond, R-Mo., was governor when the program began as a pilot project in Missouri in 1981 and expanded nationwide under a 1984 law requiring schools to provide parent education and developmental screening. All states now have some version.

Bond returned to the statehouse on Tuesday to promote the program -- and his funding plan -- in speeches to both chambers of the legislature.

"Twenty years ago, I made the case to the Missouri General Assembly that if we made this program available in every school district in the state, it would make a tremendous difference for our children and our families," Bond told the House. "We broke ground in Missouri. We were really revolutionary."

Bond's latest proposal would establish the first dedicated federal funding stream to expand Parents as Teachers programs at the state and local level.

Over three years, his plan would provide $400 million for states to expand access to the program; $50 million for local partnerships to expand the program in communities with limited English proficiency; and $50 million to expand the program for military families both domestically and abroad through the Department of Defense.

He estimated that more than 2.7 million families nationwide would receive Parents as Teachers services under his proposal.

Democratic State Treasurer Nancy Farmer, who is running for Bond's Senate seat, said Tuesday that she also supports expanding the Parents as Teachers program. But she criticized Bond's voting record for funding existing federal education programs.

Parents as Teachers programs already are offered in all 50 states and several other countries, according to the St. Louis-based Parents as Teachers National Center. Parents can participate in the program until their children enter kindergarten.

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