TOPEKA (KSNT) – Kansas lawmakers have given their initial approval to cut funding to the Parents as Teachers program. Now, supporters of the nearly 25 year old program are fighting back, saying it’s critical for many families and children.
For more than 10,000 Pre-K students, the building blocks of what happens starts at home through a program called Parents as Teachers program. In the Topeka School District nearly 400 children get help from school staff who visit homes to educate parents and assure that children are prepared for school.
“It’s not just thinking outside of the box, but it’s going outside of the box and that’s what we’ve done, taking that extra step,” says educator Veronica Byro.
The house of social services budget committee wants to cut $7.2 million from the program, that’s more than half the current budget.
“If we want to alter the trajectory of their life in a negative way, in a irreversible way so we can be comfortable then we probably don’t deserve to sit in the seats we sit in,” Patrick Woods, board member of USD 501.
Legislators say the cuts are needed to help balance the budget but educators say it’s a short-sighted move. The program is coming on the 25th anniversary.
“We have to consider early childhood education as one of those economic development tools,” Mariam Krehbiel, from United Way.
And because the majority of the families in the program make less than nine-thousand dollars a year the program, say educators, is badly needed. Parents as teacher’s officials say the next step is to contact the local legislature and to show their support on March 4th at the capital for PAT Day. The cuts to the Parents as Teachers program takes place as the legislature prepares a budget to address the $436 million revenue short fall during the next fiscal year in July.