Over the last year, we engaged in a strategic planning process to clarify our commitment to the community and our role in helping clients achieve family well-being. We honed in on a vision of the community that we aspire to create: A community that empowers parents, prioritizes healthy families and invests in child development.
As we begin to unpack each element of our vision, we begin with what it means to “empower parents” and why that is part of the work that inspires and motivates us each day.
Empowering parents is core to each of our programs. One model that is centered around empowering parents is our Healthy and Fair Start (HFS) program. Utilizing the Parents as Teachers model, our role is to facilitate positive interactions between the parent and child, promoting optimal early development, learning, health and safety of the child.
Our Parent Educators visit families in their own homes and each visit has 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, but also to 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.
(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.
And there are many more examples throughout all of our service offerings.
In our CARE program, we provide case management for children with a life-altering medical diagnosis and partner with parents to make services accessible and goals attainable. And while we provide physical therapy, speech therapy and occupational therapy directly to children under the age of three through our Early Childhood Intervention program, we also educate parents about developmental milestones and offer tools so they can work with their child between visits to improve outcomes.
In gaining confidence, skills and connections, parents can reach the ultimate parental end-goal: time to plan ahead and prepare for the future. With this space for planning and