MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Three-year-old Kyan Kirkwood enjoys learning new things.
He enjoys learning so much that his mother LaToria Craft wanted extra help.
Craft currently works part-time at the Memphis International Airport and is a full-time nursing student.
“It’s very helpful for me because I’m pretty much with him all the time,” Craft said.
“If I’m not at work or at school, I’m with him.”
The referral program partners parents with a skilled and experienced home visitor, who supports them in helping their children succeed.
Parent Educator Tanya Kelley visits Craft and her son twice a month.
“As a parent educator, we go into the homes and we work with the parents and their children,” Kelley said.
“Our objective is to make sure the children are ready by the time they get ready for school.”
Kelley has been working with Kyan for a year and half.
The two work on anything from numbers, to letters to shapes.
“With the program, she makes learning fun and it makes it interesting and like helps him stay on his toes,” Craft said.
“It’s always like he’s always at the door or at the window looking for her. ‘Oh Mama here’s Ms. Kelley! There’s Ms. Kelley! She has goodies today!”
Director Kellie Mitchell said ParentPlus reduces barriers to participating in early childhood programs.
The home visitors come from various organizations in Shelby County.
“Yes, so we exist to make parents aware of these resources and make it really easy to connect to these programs,” Mitchell explained.
“All of these programs are doing incredible work and seeing amazing outcomes, but there are some variances, and everyone is going to have slightly different preferences.”
Mitchell said the first five years of a child’s life is important to their overall well-being.
“When you’re building the foundation for a life, a brain is like building a house,” Mitchell said.
“For a house, you want a strong foundation, so getting all these resources into the hands of families and supporting children at their earliest stages, is so important to build that foundation.”
ParentPlus is free.
Home visitors come from Porter-Leath, Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, and One-by-One Ministries.
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