In addition, multi-state studies have shown a statistically significant reduction in the need for special education services on the part of Parent-Child graduates as opposed to similar students lacking the program (14 percent Parent-Child vs. 39 percent others).
The great news about Parent-Child is also that it is relatively inexpensive. In Salem, the cost for one family to participate is currently about $2,500. This means that a one-time $2,500 expense currently reaps an ongoing $10,800 annual savings for each child not referred for Special Education services. Talk about a return on investment!
Program coordinator Joyce Parent currently has seven home visitors, two of whom are able to provide the program in Spanish. Three of the current home visitors are former program participants who bring an evangelical fervor to bringing what worked for them into the lives of people whose situation is just like their own was. Interested readers can visit the Parent-Child website, parent-child.org, to learn more.
Salem could probably double or triple the size of this “little engine that works” if we exercise the will to fund it. The drama currently affecting our city is over radical “cures” that may or may not pay off in the long run; “cures” that are test-score based to the virtual exclusion of all other factors that separate “education” from “training.” Perhaps, we need to devote more resources to preventive early childhood programs such as Parent-Child and expanded preschool opportunities that make many expensive “cures” unnecessary.
That would be the long view and, in my opinion, the wise view.
Brendan Walsh is a member of the Salem School Committee.