Many “firsts” happen during a child’s first five years of life: first tooth, first steps, first words, first day of school. Parents love to watch as their children change and develop. These are important years that shape a child’s future. Every age brings about new opportunities as well as unique challenges.
Any Baby Can’s Healthy and Fair Start (HFS) program partners with parents to navigate these stages with confidence, helping their kids learn, grow and reach their full potential. By using a nationally recognized curriculum called Parents as Teachers (PAT), HFS recognizes that a parent is a child’s first and most important teacher. Therefore, our role is to facilitate interactions between the parent and child, promoting optimal early development, learning, health and safety of the child.
The goals of HFS are to promote bonding and attachment, prepare kids for school (socially, emotionally, and academically), and connect families to resources in the community and to each other.
“All parents want the best for their child. We get inspired by our families’ willingness to open their door and welcome us in on their journey,” says Valerie Lopez-Stern, Any Baby Can’s Parents as Teachers Supervisor.
Our HFS Parent Educators visit families in their homes once or twice each month. Visits have three core components designed to empower the parents in their child’s development.
(1) Fun parent-child activities focused on age-specific milestones.
The goals of these activities are to promote child development, strengthen the parent-child relationship, and clarify developmental expectations.Through each activity, the parent learns something new about their child’s cues and temperament and reasons for their child’s behavior. We help parents see the world through the child’s eyes, which builds a nurturing relationship.
(2) Time to talk about a parenting topic or challenge.
This is an opportunity for the parents to share their daily triumphs and challenges on practical parenting issues such as nutrition, safety, routines, sleep and discipline. The Parent Educator serves as a sounding board, providing tools and information to make good, safe choices for the child.
(3) Family well-being conversations and resources.
Sometimes the issues facing parents aren’t quite as tangible as helping our kids eat and sleep. Parents have an opportunity to talk with their Parent Educator about how to cope with stress, connect with other groups, improve the health of the entire family, budget for the future and so much more. We work alongside parents to meet their goals, whether they are the child’s goals, family goals, or parents’ career and education goals.
In addition to the in-home visits, HFS connects client families through monthly group events that build community, encourage shared exploration, and introduce parents to local friends and resources.
With a focus on protective factors, these family-strengthening services ensure that kids are healthy, safe and ready for school.
In a recent client survey, 100% of client families who received PAT training from Any Baby Can feel more confident in their ability to take care of their child and 95% feel more prepared to plan for their family’s future.
“I don’t know where I would be without Any Baby Can. Every visit and every group event helped me get through my postpartum depression. The consistency of the visits helped me look forward and not wallow further into depression. Healthy and Fair Start helped me cope with parenting and better understand what my children are going through with their different life stages, as well as how to help them along the way.” – Healthy and Fair Start client (2018)
Any Baby Can served 225 families last year through Healthy and Fair Start as we nearly doubled our team. To enroll, parents must be Travis County residents with a child prenatal to school age. Families who reach the two-year commitment graduate from the program and we help them celebrate and transition into the future.
Parents as Teachers is an evidence-based, home-visiting model with reported outcomes including1:
- Children in Parents as Teachers are less likely to go to the emergency room to be treated for injury.
- Over 75 percent of parents in Parents as Teachers reported taking their child to the library regularly and modeling enjoyment of reading and writing.
- Parents as Teachers participation was related to 50 percent fewer cases of suspected abuse and/or neglect.
- Parents as Teachers children had a 22 percent decreased likelihood of child maltreatment substantiations (as measured by Child Protective Services maltreatment data) compared to children not in Parents as Teachers.
- Parents as Teachers parents were more likely to enroll their children in preschool, attend parent-teacher conferences, PTA/PTO meetings and school events, volunteer in the classroom, talk with their children’s teacher and assist with their children’s homework
Any Baby Can also works with People’s Community Clinic on a program called Tandem that offers the same PAT curriculum specifically for teen parents served by the Clinic.
Call Any Baby Can at 512-454-3743 to get connected with a Parent Educator who can help improve your parent-child relationship!
1: Parents as Teachers National Center, Inc. 2019 (ParentsasTeachers.org)