News & Events

ParentChild+ During Covid

ParentChild+ ‘Visits’ Take on New Meaning During Covid Pandemic

A Rising Ground home-visiting program, designed to help young children succeed in kindergarten and beyond, is finding new ways to help during the Covid-19 pandemic.
And its impact is huge. Bi-weekly ParentChild+ home visits for two years have been shown to increase future graduation rates by 30% and reduce the need for special education by 50%.

In the ParentChild+ program, early learning specialists visit homes of very young children, bringing free books and educational toys. The specialists show parents how to engage their young ones with books and toys to nurture their reading and math skills.

“The visits are very powerful, even virtually,” notes Jeanette Morocho, program coordinator. “We see the children’s progress. They recognize letters, colors, and are able to count. They become more social. And parents are learning too. It really supports the whole family.”

When the health crisis hit and stay-at-home orders went into effect, program staff moved quickly to replace home visits with video chats over FaceTime, Zoom, and WhatsApp. They packed up 119 bags with books and toys and delivered them to families enrolled in the program. The program’s young children, ages 16 months to just under 3 years, happily engaged in educational activities with their parents and visitors online.

Yet, as the crisis wore on, early learning specialists took note of their families’ deteriorating situations: some lost jobs, others wouldn’t leave their homes for fear of catching the virus. The educational materials Rising Ground provided were making a huge impact. But the families, many of whom live in poverty, had urgent needs.

“Parents told us the educational activities were very important — not just for the child enrolled in our program but for their siblings who were also stuck at home,” says Ms. Morocho. “They also said they needed food, diapers, and soap – basic things.”

So, Ms. Morocho and her team pulled together a stockpile of essential supplies, including canned goods, rice, oatmeal, bath soap, tissues, toilet paper, diapers, and wipes. The items are packed in huge boxes, which the staff delivers along with the books and toys customary to the program.

“Checking in with our families and their needs is a critical part of what we do,” says Ms. Morocho, a program veteran of five years. “The video visits have given us a new window into the home environment. With the city not fully re-opened and many parents not working, what we are doing is essential.”

To see how Rising Ground delivers essentials to ParentChild+ families, watch this report by News 12 Bronx.