Parents as Teachers (PAT)

Parents as Teachers is an evidence-based home visiting model designed to ensure young children are healthy, safe and ready to learn.

The Parents as Teachers model has four components: twice-per-month personal home visits, monthly group connections events, in-home child screenings, and resource networking. Together, these four components target four goals:

  • Increase parent knowledge of early childhood development and improve parenting practices.
  • Provide early detection of developmental delays and health issues.
  • Prevent child abuse and neglect
  • Increase children's school readiness and school success.

Service duration is ideally three years and varies depending on the age of the child at the time the family enrolls.

Population Served

PAT serves pregnant women, and parents or guardians of children aged 0 to 3 years old living within Pierce County Council Districts 4 and 6.

Research and Outcomes

Independent evaluation has been integral to the success of Parents as Teachers. Research has been conducted and outcome data have been collected from more than 16,000 children and parents. Researchers have used rigorous research designs, including randomized controlled trials and quasi-experimental methods. Studies published in peer-reviewed journals have shown statistically significant effects, demonstrating that Parents as Teachers achieves its goals and makes a real difference in the lives of children and families.

Short-term outcomes include improved maternal health and birth outcomes, increased parental knowledge of child development, improved parent-child relationships, early detection of developmental delays and health issues, and improved family health and functioning. Intermediate outcomes include improved child health/development, prevention of abuse/neglect, increased school readiness, and increased parental involvement with children.

Outcome Data:


"Where do I start?" This was the question Stephanie* was looking to answer when she found Parents as Teachers from an online resource. Stephanie was brand new to Washington state, brand new to being a mom, overwhelmed and anxious about what the future held. PAT offered her resources for improving the well-being of her family, education about child development, and how to realize her potential as her child's first and most important teacher.

Stephanie and her daughter, Hannah, were living in an overcrowded two-bedroom apartment with extended family. Five people were subsisting on her stepfather's income from social security. She didn't know much about parenting or child development, but she knew she loved her 14-month old little girl enough to create a brighter future for her family.

With guidance from her PAT Parent Educator, Stephanie applied for financial assistance from DSHS and enrolled in a medical assistant certificate program. Stephanie had anxiety and was looking for help. Her Parent Educator connected her to accessible mental health counseling where she learned new skills to manage her anxiety, making it easier to get out in the community. Stephanie's Parent Educator continued to cheer her on as she enrolled Hannah in Head Start, began school herself, and started a part-time job.

"Am I doing this right?" This was a common thought Stephanie had as she made daily decisions about parenting and her growing daughter. Stephanie's Parent Educator brought activities to the family's home twice each month to promote Hannah's mastery of each developmental milestone. The activities called for objects the family was already using (recyclables and other household items) in addition to items brought by the Parent Educator. Stephanie was left with directions and supplies, so she and Hannah could do the activities between visits from their Parent Educator. Because of her participation in PAT, Stephanie has a greater grasp of Hannah's development so she is able to be more purposeful in creating meaningful learning opportunities. Their bond has grown and Stephanie's anxieties about being a parent have dissipated.

"I can see the light." Stephanie can now see the light at the end of the tunnel and looks forward to continuing to achieve once seemingly impossible goals for herself and her family!

*Client names have been changed to protect their identity.