Though Foster Care may be our biggest program, our other programs are designed to do something that may seem radical: keep children out of our biggest program. Our Maternity Shelter and Pregnancy & Parenting Support Program exist partly to help strengthen families and prevent child abuse and neglect, supporting the facet of our mission of “keeping families together”.
Out of those three, the one that is most directly linked to preventing child abuse and neglect is our Pregnancy & Parenting Support Program. Serving more than 150 families annually, this program starts, typically, before babies are even born and follow families for up to a year after baby is born.
Moms (and dads, grandparents, and other family members) can get in touch with our services if they feel overwhelmed, stressed, are in crisis, or need extra support. Many families are referred to our program by the United Way, another service provider, a social worker, or even family and friends.
In this program, we help to prevent child abuse and neglect by first helping to eliminate parental stress. Our objective in this program is healthy pregnancy, healthy mom, and healthy baby. When we can lower mom’s stress levels, it makes those goals much more attainable. Common stressors for our clients include poverty, lack of housing, employment, relationship issues, and mental and physical health. We help to connect our clients with resources that can help find housing, utility assistance, employment, and prenatal healthcare.
In helping alleviate stress, one of the most important factors of our program is the support that our case managers provide to their clients. Our workers help to create a “game plan” of sorts with their clients, and are there to lend a listening ear to moms and moms-to-be when they need it. They help our clients work through emotional and relationship issues, and talk through problems they are going through. By lowering mom’s stress and helping her be healthy emotionally and mentally, we help families prevent child abuse and neglect.
Additionally, we work with moms on parenting education and how to parent in a healthy way. We cover prenatal education and care, understanding and handling stress, safe sleep, alternatives to spanking, and nurturing routines for parents and kids. By helping families be more educated and informed, they can increase their parenting skills and parent better.
By investing in this program before a baby is born and support families during the first year of baby’s life, we are able to create safer families, stronger community, and prevent child abuse and neglect.