• Karen Shahonski and Teresa Miller


    HARRISBURG, PA, August 30, 2019 — Center for Schools and Communities’ Karen Shanoski, who leads the Pennsylvania Parents as Teachers state office, recently sat down with Teresa Miller, secretary of Pennsylvania Department of Human Services to record a meaningful conversation about parenting for StoryCorps, the oral history project that provides an opportunity for everyday and extraordinary people to tell their story and to have others listen.

    The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services funds several home visiting programs, including Parents as Teachers (PAT), an evidence-based early childhood home visiting framework that builds strong communities, thriving families and children who are healthy, safe and ready to learn. Through PAT, parent educators work to build strong families by fostering positive parent-child relationships. The purpose of home visits is to help parents improve their parenting skills, particularly in the child’s primary learning environment. “Evidence-based home visiting family support programs have a strengths-based approach and family focus that work with both the parent and child,” Shanoski said.

    As the Secretary of the Department of Human Services, Miller holds many responsibilities and must make numerous decisions each day that impact families in the state.

    When Miller learned about evidence-based home visiting and saw a PAT program in action, she realized that as a mother of a toddler, she could benefit from the supports offered by a home visiting program; and that by taking part in it, she could reduce the stigma of receiving help to be the best parent for her child. Miller’s experience with a PAT home visitor has increased her confidence as her young daughter’s first and most influential teacher.

    Miller emphasizes how parenting is among the most difficult jobs anyone will face and we do it without a guidebook and we do it alone. She wants people to know it is ok to ask for help. She has been enriched by her involvement with her home visitor.

    “Secretary Miller discussed the difficulties and joys of parenthood,” Shanoski said. It was a great conversation and I hope it will affect people positively.”

    This story is archived with the Parents as Teachers StoryCorps Community and housed at the American Folklife Center at the United States Library of Congress.

    Interview with Teresa Miller

    About PAT
    The Pennsylvania PAT state office at Center for Schools and Communities provides implementation support to programs through site visits, consultations, monthly webinars, newsletters and professional development in local workshops and regional and statewide settings, as well as PAT National Center developed core certification courses. Pennsylvania PAT is part of Pennsylvania Family Support Stakeholders group and the Family Centers network and collaborates with other evidence based-home visiting models and advocates in the Childhood Begins at Home Campaign.

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    Aylissa Kiely
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