Stay at Home Parents in JenningsIn Jennings: The eyes of Jennings resident Arthur Crawley were fixed upon his two-year-old son, A.J., as he started to figure out a motor skills development activity as part of the ARCHS' Stay At Home Parent (SAHP) partnership. He had difficulty at first, but A.J. was soon able to string several Fruit Loops onto a piece of licorice through determination, and from watching his dad do the same. Arthur’s eyes teared up some as he beamed with pride for what his young son was able to accomplish.

“This is one of the everyday development practices to help my child out that I didn’t know before. I used to think I knew it all,” Arthur said while his wife, Shantail, sat on the other end of the couch holding their two-month old baby Destyne.

“The Stay At Home Parent program positively affects the lives of approximately 1,300 families throughout Missouri every month,” said Toni Sutherlands, of the Department of Social Services. “It focuses attention on one of our most vulnerable populations – children under the age of three – and helps their parents become the best caregivers they can be, while helping them realize their own strengths and work towards achieving goals that many of them thought they would only be able to dream of.”

A variety of activities are taught and implemented within the families to help with the children’s development. Also, books are distributed to promote literacy.

To participate in SAHP, a family must have a child less than three years of age and a household income under 185 percent of poverty. Additionally, the parent must meet one of the following requirements:

  • Unemployed but may be receiving temporary assistance
  • Employed 20 hours or less per week
  • Living in a shelter or temporary housing
  • A teen parent
  • Referred by the state as being "at risk" for physical, emotional, social or educational neglect

Educator Margaret Neely said through ARCHS' partnership with Jennings School District, services are provided to 42 families. Her focus for many parents is learning the appropriate times for when each development stage of a child should occur.

“I hope through the site visits, parents learn the ability and empowerment to really know their child, and know when to do the age-appropriate things,” Neely said. “We want to get parents to learn there is an appropriate time for each step in their child’s development.”

Arthur said through SAHP, he now knows when and how to teach A.J. basic skills that are essential to his development. He hopes to do the same with his daughter as she grows.

“I learned a lot about patience,” he said. “I’ve always had a habit of yelling, but you get a lot more out of your children after you learn patience."