Child Wellness Begins At Pregnancy
2007 Program of Excellence Winner for Prevention of Child Abuse
Healthy Start, a Healthy Families Illinois program serves as a highly effective program in the deterrence of child abuse and neglect. Through positive, persistent, outreach services and in-home visits, at-risk parents learn about child development, nutrition, parenting and wellness.
As a Healthy Families Illinois program, Healthy Start reaches out to young, first-time mothers and fathers who are at risk for child abuse or neglect. The Public Health Department, doctors, schools and other community agencies refer parents to Healthy Start during pregnancy or within two week after birth of the infant
Once referred to the program, a Family Assessment Worker determines if the parent meets eligibility requirements. Family Support Workers screen and assess parents for maternal depression, domestic violence, and parental stress. The program seeks to improve family health through immunizations and well-child visits. These visits include parent education on infant and child development and appropriate care, infant stimulation, brain development, and nutrition. Healthy Start helps parents with stress management, budgeting skills, problem solving skills, hygiene, and safety education. The cumulative effect of these efforts strengthens families and reduces the risk of child abuse and neglect. The family can be in the program until the child reaches the age of five.
Pregnant clients may also elect to receive the services of the Doula Program. This program provides prenatal information and emotional support, labor coaching, and breastfeeding support and assistance in the early days after labor. Expecting mothers may enroll in the Doula Program during their third trimester.
Healthy Start clients impacted by mental health or family of origin issues may participate in home based counseling provided by the Healthy Start Therapist, a bi-lingual, licensed clinical professional counselor.
Healthy Start has joined with Parents Care + Share and developed parent support groups that address prenatal needs, maternal depression, and offer general parent to parent support.
In 2007 the Healthy Start program was awarded the Prevent Child Abuse America Program of Excellence Award for central Illinois.
The Healthy Start program is offered in the Central Region.
Children’s Home + Aid’s Healthy Families Illinois programs are fully accredited by Healthy Families America. The award of accreditation indicates programming that adheres to research based best practices standards that are indicative of programming excellence. The accreditation process includes submission of an extensive self-study and three-day site visit by representatives of Healthy Families America.