ST. LOUIS ( -- When a new parent first brings a baby home from the hospital they might feel nervous or lost. One national organization is helping guide new parents and babies, and that organization started in St. Louis.

Shene’t Paige felt like most mothers do when she brought her daughter Cassydi home: a little uncertain and a lot overwhelmed.

Parents as Teachers was there to hold her hand from the beginning. Now Cassydi is 16-months-old.

The program is accessible to any family in Missouri through your local school district. There are programs in Illinois, too. And it’s free!

[READ: One St. Louis teacher's solution to classroom chaos]

Parents as Teachers is even available for families from before the baby is born until age 5, in some cases.

The idea behind the program is that 80% of a child's brain development happens before age 3 and parents are their child’s first and most influential teacher.

Parents as Teachers was the vision of Mildred Winter. She worked in the Ferguson-Florissant School District in the 80s.

“She saw children coming to school under prepared. Not ready to learn. She thought the answer was parents,” Beth Clay said.

With neuroscientists, she created a curriculum.

Former US Senator from Missouri, Kit Bond, enrolled his son in the pilot stage of the program. And in 1984, while serving as Missouri governor, he passed the Early Childhood Education Act to establish Parents as Teachers statewide.

It's being replicated in all 50 states.

Copyright 2020 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved

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