Pictured from left-to-right: Westminster City Councillor Sheela Mahnke, Chief Program and Impact Officer Dolores Ramirez, State Senator Faith Winter, PAT Program Manager Olga Lopez, Governor Jared Polis, Parent Educator Rhiannon Riccillo Fruner, Chief Development Officer Pell Fender, President and CEO Karen Fox Elwell, PAT Program Director at Parent Possible Michele Provost, State Representative Shannon Bird, Westminster City Council Mayor Pro Tem Anita Seitz.

On Wednesday, August 14, Growing Home hosted a visit by Governor Jared Polis and other elected officials, to mark the first day of school in Westminster and the launch of free, full-day kindergarten in Colorado public schools. After visiting a Westminster elementary school, the Governor stopped at Growing Home to learn about how the organization supports low-income families by helping them meet their basic needs, encouraging academic success through early childhood educational programs, and elevating community voices to build resilient communities where families can thrive.

At Growing Home, the Governor attended a presentation by Karen Fox Elwell on Growing Home’s approach to create a thriving and equitable north metro Denver, one family at a time. Karen explained Growing Home’s participant-centered approach to strengthen families, nurture children, and connect community.

Governor Polis then learned about Growing Home’s Parents as Teachers (PAT) program and ways this program helps parents prepare their kids for success in school and in life. Growing Home operates the largest Parents as Teachers home visitation program in Colorado, and this program has been recognized multiple times as one of the best PAT programs in the nation. Parents as Teachers is an evidence-based program that has been proven to reduce the school readiness gap that exists between children in low-income families and their more affluent peers at school entry. Parents as Teachers offers home-based skill-building service to help parents be their child’s first, best teacher, and is paired with a comprehensive set of physical and developmental screenings to identify and address potential barriers to learning. In the most recent program year, Growing Home’s Parents as Teachers program served more than 300 families and had 65 children graduate to a high-quality pre-school program.

Polis also toured Growing Home’s food pantry, which hosts over 3,700 visits per year and is the typical first point of contact for families seeking assistance. Growing Home’s food pantry is open Monday through Saturday 10am-12noon and serves families with children under age eighteen. Families visiting the food pantry also learn about other services offered by Growing Home such as housing assistance and case management, and obtain referrals for other services that fall outside of Growing Home’s scope.

Growing Home was honored to host the Governor and showcase our work that addresses the needs of the whole person, whole family, and whole community to achieve sustainable outcomes.  For more information on this work, please visit www.growinghome.org