Door to Hope Parent Educator Receives National Award

SALINAS, CALIFORNIA — Every year, the Parents as Teachers (PAT) national program bestows a Parent Educator of the Year award to one compassionate individual who exemplifies the PAT mission: promoting the optimal early development, learning and health of children by supporting and engaging their parents and caregivers. This year, Door to Hope’s own Lilia Wanless won this exclusive national distinction for her outstanding commitment to her client families. Lilia is described by her Door to Hope coworkers as “extremely professional” and “a delight to work with.”

The nationwide PAT program, based in St. Louis, Missouri, provides parents of infants and young children with the skills, supports, resources, and education they need to become better parents. Using a home-based visitation model based on proven research, the core principle is that a parent is a child’s first and most influential teacher and that effective parenting during a child’s early years builds a foundation for success throughout life. The Door to Hope-affiliated program also provides screenings for potential developmental delays and health issues. All PAT staff are trained and annually certified.

Chris Shannon, Executive Director at Door to Hope said, “We are so proud and fortunate to have Lilia’s talents and expertise working for Door to Hope.”

Loyal to the PAT program for nearly three decades, Lilia first discovered PAT as a young mother herself in North Carolina and continued her involvement as a Parent Educator as she transitioned to Oklahoma and then to California, where she began working for Door to Hope.

According to Lilia, “PAT has been a blessing for me. I first received support when I was a parent. My favorite part of PAT is helping parents recognize that they are the first, most important teacher and they are the experts on their children. I realize that this is my passion and even after 26 years, yes, I want to continue doing this.”

With one of the highest client engagement and retention rates in the program, Lilia keeps most of her families for 3-5 years. Her supervisors at Door to Hope attribute this success to her positive personality and skill at building strong relationships with each family based on mutual respect and authentic compassion. Clients say they feel seen, heard, and appreciated by the individualized support Lilia creates for them.

This is not the first time that Door to Hope’s PAT program has been nationally honored. Door to Hope also received PAT’s exclusive Losos Prize for Innovation in 2016, granted to programs that develop new solutions that address specific needs of their community or the families served and enhance existing programmatic and service delivery needs in new or innovative ways.

For more information about Parents as Teachers, visit

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