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Parents as Teachers

Parents as Teachers (PAT) is a free and voluntary early learning program for parents with children birth to five years of age. The program provides family support including parent education, child development, development screening, playgroups, and service coordination to link families to other available services.


Parents as Teachers, which originated in Missouri in 1981, is based on a philosophy that babies begin learning at birth and that parents are their children's first and most influential teachers. PAT can help you lay a strong foundation for your child's future success in school. PAT is designed to serve all parents - from single, teenage mothers to two-parent families, regardless of income.


As a participant, you'll receive the following services:

  • Personalized home visits by a certified parent educator, specially trained in child development and eager to help you give your child a great start.
  • Group meetings with other parents where you can share parenting experiences, gain new insights, talk about topics that interest you, and play with your child.
  • Periodic screening to ensure that your child has no undetected learning, sensory (hearing or visual), or developmental problems.
  • A network of resources that can help you with special services you may want that are beyond the scope of PAT.

Referrals to other agencies

Families may be served through Parents as Teachers for up to five years, or until referred to another program. When age eligible, a referral is made to the Great Start Readiness Program, Head Start, Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) in public schools, or other tuition preschool or child care programs.

To apply for home-based programs including Parents As Teachers, visit our Early Childhood Program and complete our Help Me Grow - Ottawa application (new window) or print and complete a paper application from the link below.

Print an Application
PDF Document Early Childhood Education Application (new window)
PDF Document Early Childhood Education Spanish Application (new window)

Submit Paper Applications to:
Help Me Grow Ottawa
Ottawa Area ISD
13565 Port Sheldon Street
Holland MI 49424

For more information visit Parents as Teachers or contact:

Maureen Schmidt

Assistant Director