our focus : giving kids an equal chance

Parent-Child Home Program

The Parent-Child Home Program is a research-based early literacy and school readiness program for hard-to-reach families. The program engages isolated, diverse, low-income families where it matters—in their homes—and coaches parents to become adept teachers for their young children.

PCHP graph

Its focus is 2- and 3-year-olds and their parents. At the family's invitation, trained visitors come twice weekly over a two-year period with gifts of books and educational toys. Using these materials, the visitor teams with the parent in educational play to stimulate the child's development.

The program has proven highly successful, raising participants' high school graduation rates by 30 percentage points.

Building on the work of the Business Partnership for Early Learning, which brought the program to the region, United Way plans to extend the Parent-Child Home Program to any family living in poverty in King County that is interested and can benefit. The expansion of the Parent-Child Home Program will help give every child in our community an equal chance to succeed.

At-a-glance description

This one-sheet hits the highlights of the Parent-Child Home Program, and is perfect for sharing with others.

List of providers

See the details of how we're serving families all over King County with the Parent-Child Home Program.

Great videos about the Parent-Child Home Program

Check out our YouTube channel: Parent-Child Home Program channel

National program video

With decades of research behind this national program, see how the Parent-Child Home Program fills a particular gap in services for low income families.

How it's working in King County

Each year United Way of King County evaluates the progress of the families participating in the program. Read key findings from Organizational Research Services.

BPEL: An early advocate for the Parent-Child Home Program

In 2005, a group of concerned business leaders came together as the Business Partnership for Early Learning (BPEL). They were interested in doing more to ensure that every child, regardless of background, would have an equal chance at success in school. After looking at great programs from across the country, they began a small-scale demonstration project of the program here, backed by corporate and foundation funding, as well as United Way.

The demonstration project was so successful that United Way has now committed to taking the program to scale, so that every family who needs and wants it can take part. Here you can read BPEL's five-year evaluation of the pilot or a summary of the key findings.

What is the Parent-Child Home Program?

The Parent-Child Home Program is a research-based early literacy and school readiness program for 2- to 4-year-olds and their parents. A trained home visitor provides twice-weekly home visits over a two-year period and brings gifts of books and educational toys. Culturally-competent home visitors coach parents by modeling behaviors that stimulate early learning. The program is purely voluntary on the family's part.

Why is this program focused on low-income families?

Seventy-five percent of the state's low-income kindergarteners are identified by their teachers as not prepared to succeed in school. As King County's demographic trends shift, growing numbers of children live in poverty or come from immigrant families. Language barriers and economic hardship can present roadblocks to early learning opportunities. Income has a high correlation with vocabulary acquisition and school preparedness.

Because they don't begin with the same skills and tools as many of their peers, children who enter kindergarten with gaps in their preparation often have difficulty achieving success in school, and many never graduate.

Why is it necessary to reach out to people in their homes?

More than 60 percent of children in our state under the age of 5 are not educated in preschools or child care programs. They are in the primary care of parents, family members or other care givers.

Home visiting programs work because they meet people where they are, reaching families who may not otherwise enroll in a parenting class or preschool.

How will United Way of King County recruit families to participate?

In the early stages of the program, outreach includes neighborhood canvassing and door-knocking. Once the program is established, our experience has been that the program fills via word-of-mouth.

Our partner organizations all have robust networks of families that they serve and already have connections with.

How many families does the Parent-Child Home Program serve?

United Way of King County and our partners have expanded from serving 160 families to 1,000.

How much does it cost?

It costs approximately $4,000 to serve each family each year. Costs include staffing, training, mileage and the educational books and toys.

How many families do home visitors work with?

On average, each home visitor serves 10 to 15 families at a time.

Of families that enroll in the program, how many see it through?

Ninety percent of families who start PCHP complete the two-year program.

How do you decide which toys and books are best?

The national program offers lists of recommended developmentally appropriate books and toys. Local programs use these lists as guides, adjusting the specific materials they purchase to best serve the populations with which they work.

Are all of the books in English?

It's important for young children to hear and use language in their early years. Many families worry that using their home language will confuse their children. Actually, children can easily learn several languages at the same time. They have an easier time learning English when they have a strong foundation in their first language.

Our experience has been that non-English speaking families are eager to have their children learn English. A variety of books are used, including books in English, bilingual books and some in the family's native language.

How do you select the home visitors?

In addition to a cultural and language match with families, programs look for particular qualities in home visitors, including warmth, patience, a non-judgmental approach to working with families, knowledge of the community, and enthusiasm for supporting young children and their parents. In many sites around the county former program participants serve as effective home visitors.


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