Incentivizing Parents as Teachers
A Parents as Teachers program in Alabama has started a “baby bucks” program to reward parents for what it considers to be appropriate decisions:
Parents of children up to age 36 months are eligible to earn “baby bucks” when they make good parenting choices, such as participation in child-development programs for family events.
Parents can also earn “baby bucks” through other actions, like signing up for WIC assistance or allowing Parents as Teachers into their homes. The “baby bucks” are redeemable for items such as diapers, toys, and clothes, which are donated to the Baby Bucks Boutique.
I spoke with a representative from the Alabama program who confirmed that “baby bucks” is open to all parents with children in the eligible age range. Although Parents as Teachers obviously can’t enroll wealthy families in WIC, parents at all income levels can earn “baby bucks” in various ways.
“Baby bucks” are not given only to families that couldn’t afford baby items on their own — kind of like the entire Parents As Teachers model, which isn’t means-tested. A program that starts out as free for all parents, so that it’s not a welfare program for the few, can turn into a welfare program for everyone.
I don’t know of any Parents as Teachers programs in Missouri that offer material incentives for participation and parenting decisions. But if you’re not enthusiastic about publicly funded programs giving out stuff in exchange for approved parenting behavior, keep in mind that this is a direction that Parents as Teachers can go.