Is there anything more precious than a new born wrapped in a mother’s loving arms? Family members come from far and wide to see the precious little one. But imagine that you are a young mother with no blanket in which to wrap your baby and no family coming to celebrate his birth. The Baby Fold wraps their arms around these at risk new families.
The Healthy Start program is totally voluntary, but requires commitment from the mother to invite a Family Support Worker into her home bi-weekly through the remainder of her pregnancy and weekly during the first nine months of her baby’s life. A feature of the program is “mom is the child’s first teacher,” and the Support Worker brings many interactive ideas to help mom and baby relate and bond. The Support Worker becomes a trusted friend, a tie to other community resources, and a resource on so many “what do I do” concerns. Not only does the Support Worker help the mother relate to her child, she helps the mother build a safe and economically viable environment for her family. At the end of the Healthy Start program, the family graduates, knowing they have the resources and knowledge to manage the stresses of life.
No other program offers weekly home visits to first time parents with a range of supportive, educational and resource links as Healthy Start.
- Pregnant mother age 22 years or younger
- First-time parent
- Lives in McLean County or Champaign County
Healthy Start accepts referrals from anyone. Most referrals come from the health department, hospitals, and schools. Some referrals come from pregnant mothers who heard of Healthy Start from a friend or family member. Referrals can be called in to our office or a referral form can be completed and returned. A referral must be received by Healthy Start during pregnancy or before baby turns two weeks old.
All Healthy Start services, from referral to case closing, are offered voluntarily. Parents choose to participate (it is not a mandated program) and they can discontinue services at any point of the service delivery continuum without any repercussions. Once enrolled in the program, parents can participate in home visiting services until their child turns five years old.
Home visits: Family Support Workers meet families in their homes, or wherever they are comfortable to meet, and talk about pregnancy and parenting topics specific to the families’ needs. Family Support Workers share information on a wide variety of topics including: pregnancy, fetal development, preparing for labor and delivery, newborn care, feeding, sleeping, reading and responding to infant cues, child development, parenting techniques, stress management, home safety, family planning, and postpartum depression. Every home visit includes parent-child activities and focuses on supporting the parent-child relationship. Family Support Workers assist parents in identifying their strengths and needs, establishing family goals, and linking with community resources.
Groups: Healthy Start offers family fun events and support groups throughout the year for all Healthy Start families.
Books: Thanks to First Book McLean County, every child in the Healthy Start program receives one new book a month.
Baby items: Healthy Start can assist participating families with some baby items on occasion. This includes diapers, wipes, home safety items, blankets, clothes, pacifiers, etc. Availability of these items varies throughout the year.
The Baby Fold’s Healthy Start program is accredited by Healthy Families America.