ELC Staff Meets in New Building

Although the building won’t officially open until August, staff members are already getting their classrooms and offices ready in the Washington School District’s new Early Learning Center, located on the Washington West Elementary campus. Meeting in the lobby/reception area, from left, are teacher Amy Dewert and her daughter, Abigail, teacher Kelly Worstell, special education instructor Elizabeth Mades, teachers Erin DeClue and Amy O’Hanlon (with back to camera) and ELC Director Dawn Hellebusch. The building will house all in-town preschools, early childhood special education and Parents as Teachers.     Missourian Photo.

The Parents as Teachers (PAT) director says the opening of the new Early Learning Center is a “dream come true” for her program and the community as a whole.

Pat Frank is starting her 22nd year with the Washington School District’s Parents as Teachers program.

“The impact and effect of the three early childhood programs — Parents as Teachers, preschool and early childhood special education — under one roof will be phenomenal,” she said.

“All research shows early intervention can make a difference in a child’s success in school and in their lifetime,” she noted. “Our new facility will offer resources, support and books for parents. We look forward to serving all families living in the district boundaries.”

The district will officially open the center Tuesday, Aug. 5, with a ribbon cutting and community open house from 5 to 6:30 p.m.

Frank said Parents as Teachers is a free state-mandated program, designed to assist and support parents with children, prenatal to kindergarten age.

“Parents are offered the Foundational curriculum to help their children learn skills and positive behavior, which will increase the likelihood of their child being successful in school,” she said.

All Parents as Teachers staff are certified as “affiliates” with Foundational Curriculum, Frank said.

“The program offers the parent personal visits with their child (or children), educational parent programs, parent/child activity sessions and resources for guidance and support,” she said.

Frank said new Washington Early Learning Center will be available on Wednesday mornings for weekly playgroup sessions.

Parents as Teachers also offers developmental screenings for children, 3 months to 5 years, for information pertaining to individual growth and detection of potential delays. This program is funded by state and local funds.

The Washington PAT program currently serves about 350 children.