Learning to Parent, Teaching to Read

Being a first time parent can be an intimidating task, especially for low-income parents without any post-secondary education. Home Nursing Agency Community Services tries to help those parents – and their children – with a program called Mommy Read to Me Please, to help those mothers with resources to learn about parenting and child development. The program started about 10 years ago, to fill a gap with first-time mothers struggling to get by.

The program provides these moms with quality children’s books, and with a personal nurse to guide parents through the first two years of child development. “The nurses encourage child development with the mothers,” Lois Schultz, Supervisor of Cambria County Nurse-Family Partnership said. “First time mothers with toddlers often get discouraged when trying to read to their child because they squirm and wiggle. The nurses help teach them that it’s okay if they don’t want to be read an entire book. A few pages are okay and they’ll be ready to continue soon enough.”

With funding from the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies’ Fall 2016 grant distribution, the Mommy Read to Me Please Project purchased 637 children’s books. Each one is an opportunity for a child to develop a love of learning, and for children and parents to bond. “We hope to continue to find room in our budget to include funds specifically for the purchase of new books for the project,” says Lois. “The continuation of this project is very important to us here at the Home Nursing Agency Community Services, and we plan on continuing it for as long as we can.”

So far, the program has helped about 550 new mothers make it through the first two years of parenting. “They are all very thankful for this program,” according to Lois. “These families want the best for their children and they can’t supply everything they want to due to their income, so that’s where we step in to help.” The nurses also are very happy to help in the program. Lois says they’re glad to be able to spread their knowledge.

Mommy Read to Me Please puts tools in the hands of first-time parents, ensuring their children get a head start on reading, and a jump start on everything else a great education has to offer.

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