In the face of the coronavirus pandemic, Raytown School District’s Parents as Teachers program continues to bring joy and support to Raytown families. Parents as Teachers is a free and voluntary early-learning program. Parent Educators make home visits for parents of pre-kindergarten aged children in the school district to provide developmental screenings and support. They also bring toys and educational materials to help parents understand their children’s development and the benefits of creative play. Program coordinator Donna Denney says during these visits, parents are taught how play helps children learn and the benefits of toys that are appropriate for their kids’ developmental stages. “In some cases, the toys we bring with us are the only stage-appropriate toys in the home,” says Trisha Hensel, Parent Educator, “and we take them with us when we leave.” In November 2019, Raytown’s Parents as Teachers received a grant from Truman Heartland Community Foundation’s Jelly Family Foundation Endowment for Children’s Education. This funding helped them launch a new program to provide free toys and parent guides for at-risk families in the school district. But when the pandemic and stay-at-home orders kept Parents as Teachers from making home visits, Donna and her team of Parent Educators had to quickly modify their program. Now, they connect with families online and offer drive-thru and delivery options for the 16 families in the toy program. “At our last drive-thru, one parent was just as excited as the kids. New toys give the kids something to look forward and offers the parent some relief during this stressful time.” Learn More About How Nonprofits are Adjusting to COVID-19 Visit the new COVID-19 section on our website to read about how nonprofits in Eastern Jackson County are working hard to meet the rapidly-changing needs of the community and how you can help.