What does Start at Zero (SaZ) do?
SaZ works with parents of children, birth to age five, to support them in getting their children ready for school and life. The organization believes that parents are their child’s first and best teacher. Our mission is to ensure that parents have the tools they need to be participants in and advocates for their child’s education.
What inspired you to begin the organization?
I was an elementary special education teacher for Kansas City Public Schools and saw education through the lens of an educator. As a parent, I began to see how much goes on before the age of five that contributes to what goes on in K-12. As I worked on my early childhood education certification, I was able to experience the value of home visiting/parent education and I wanted to bring that model to parents everywhere.
Is home visiting/parent education a priority?
In Kansas City, more attention has been given to home visiting and that has led to the creation of Promise 1000, a collaboration of all the home visiting agencies. We’re asking people to welcome someone into their home to provide support services and we need to better market the benefits of home visiting.
How long has SaZ been around?
SaZ has been an official nonprofit (501 c 3) for thirteen months but was founded in 2013. We completed a two-year pilot, funded by the Kauffman Foundation, in 2016.
What results are you seeing through your programming?
· Using the Life Skills Progression and comparing pretest and posttest scores, 88% of parents who participated in six or more months of home visiting showed an increase in or maintenance of their positive parenting behaviors (including nurturing, discipline, support of development, and safety).
· 72% of parents demonstrated increased use of supportive resources for their family’s well-being.
· 77% of children enrolled remain on-track with their developmental milestones as measured through the Ages and Stages Questionnaire.
What issues do you see SaZ tackling in the future?
We want to scale our model of putting parent educators in elementary schools. Also, there is great opportunity for a parent leadership component and we’ll be looking at ways to help parents gain confidence, feel empowered, and become better leaders.
What excites you about the current educational landscape in Kansas City?
There’s a lot happening in education right now. I am really excited about the collaborations that I’m seeing amongst organizations and agencies focused on education. And I’m hoping those partnerships will help create stronger impact!
Any words of advice for others interested in getting involved education?
Take some time to explore the education community and really understand which organizations are providing what resources. This will help determine gaps in our education community and give people an opportunity to jump in and make immediate impact.
The conversation has been edited for clarity and length. For more information on Start at Zero, please visit https://www.startatzero.org/.