Monday, September 21, 2015

Helping families thrive

The Metro Alliance for Healthy Families, a collaboration of nine counties and one city that provides home visiting services to first-time parents, recently received national accreditation. The Metro Alliance met stringent standards established by Healthy Families America, a Chicago-based nonprofit, to qualify as a provider of high-quality home visiting services.

Home visiting has been shown to be a highly effective way to help first-time parents who are experiencing significant stress learn critical skills that help improve their child's health, nutrition and development. Parents who are expecting or have a new baby typically have many questions, ranging from concerns about feeding and sleeping to tips for ways to spark growth in the baby's developing brain and body. 

Home visitors from agencies in the Metro Alliance for Healthy Families connect with families through community partners such as hospitals and clinics and then meet in the familiarity and convenience of the home.

Jill Timm, chair of the collaborative steering committee and senior program manager for Washington County Department of Public Health & Environment, commented, "All parents want to be good parents, and every parent has questions about raising their child. Our home visitors develop trusting relationships with families and provide answers to those questions and offer individualized support to families and help them connect to services in the community."

Accreditation from Healthy Families America (HFA) is based on meeting stringent standards in 12 categories, including program operations, financial management, and quality of home visits made by trained staff. HFA's Best Practice Standards have been developed following 30 years of research into what works best for helping families develop skills they need to raise children who are physically, socially and emotionally healthy and ready to learn. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has recognized Healthy Families America as an effective and proven evidence-based home visiting program.

The Metro Alliance for Healthy Families, which began in 2007, is a collaboration of Anoka, Carver, Chisago, Dakota, Hennepin, Isanti, Ramsey, Scott, and Washington counties and the City of Bloomington. The Metro Alliance, which also receives funds from the United Way, currently has 57 home visitors serving 475 families. The Healthy Families America initiative was organized in 1992 by the national nonprofit, Prevent Child Abuse America. 

No comments: