Baby & Me: Learning Together supports parents in raising young learners
Baby and Me196 North Pleasant St.
Amherst, MA 01002
Angela Roell, M.S.
Amherst, MA 01002
Board of Directors
- Maury Bohan, MPH, MEd
- Laura Reichsman, BA
- Faye Brady, EdD
- Delcie Bean
- Beth Messinger, BS
- Deborah Roth-Howe, LISCW
- Pam Asleton, PhD
- Eun Mi Kwon, MBA
- Tiffany Raines
- Tracy Hightower
- Karen Utgoff
- Kristal Cleaver, MSW
We are grateful for generous financial support from People's Bank and the Agnes Varis Trust.
Meet Rachel. She first heard of Baby and Me: Learning Together in the winter of 2015.
Her early intervention provider had encouraged her to interact more with her parenting peers. With that in mind, she hesitantly contacted our Program Coordinator, Emily Pleasant. A week later, Emily visited Rachel at her home, and introduced her to the basics of the Baby and Me program.
At the time, Rachel was skeptical. Being a 19-year-old mother meant that she had kept herself isolated since the birth of her daughter, feeling that she couldn't relate to "grownup moms." By the end of her first home visit, however, Rachel realized how wonderful it was to have someone to talk to. She remembers thinking,
"Maybe I'm not so far from the Mom area as I think I am."
Baby and Me: Learning Together launched in February 2015. It is the brainchild of educator, Maury Bohan, and physician, Susan Lowery. We believe strongly in early intervention. We aim to give families with babies and toddlers the information and support necessary to bring up healthy children who later enter school ready to learn.
Research abounds demonstrating the impacts of early intervention on school success. Measures of accomplishment at age 3 are highly correlated to academic performance at ages 9 and 10. In addition, children who enter kindergarten behind in social-emotional skills are up to 80% more likely to be retained and 80% more likely to require Special Education services through fourth grade.
At Baby and Me: Learning Together, families are recruited in cohorts of between 15 and 20. After completing an intake interview, they begin receiving home visits. A Home Visitor arrives with a free book or toy and models reading, talking and playing with the child and caregiver. The Home Visitor also discusses parenting issues, like bedtime routines and eating.
After a couple of months, the entire cohort of families comes together for ten weekly sessions with parenting experts. In addition to the information and sharing, families are provided with free childcare, a meal, a book per week, and transportation, if necessary. In all, the families receive services for nine to twelve months.
Rachel graduated from Baby and Me in February 2016. Looking back, she says the program had a big impact on the interaction between she and her daughter. The program was instrumental in getting Rachel out into her community, and in helping her toddler with early skills. Today, thanks to the year of home visits, and the ten-week group program, Rachel's daughter plays appropriately with other children, and she loves to read. In fact, when a visitor enters their home, she quickly peaks into their bags in the hope that she is receiving another book!
The Institute for Educational Research and Development (University of Illinois) says, "The home has a crucial role to play in literacy development...." Rachel understands this well. Her goals for her child are for her to thrive in a classroom, to be smart and strong, and to grow up to advocate for herself.