How Home Visiting Programs Help Us All Grow Together

woman smiling holding baby during home visiting

Anyone who has done home visiting with families has sat in homes not so different from our own.

I’ve sat on couches next to piles of laundry unwashed or unfolded, a sight I am very familiar with in my own home. I’ve seen carpets stained with god-knows-what. Which, apparently, is the same thing staining my own carpets. I’ve spoken with parents about difficult issues while their children ask. So. Many. Questions. They ask for food and drink, to watch TV or use a phone, for answers to unanswerable questions. And they cry. They cry about their siblings, minor bumps and bruises, missing toys, and above all their parents’ response time. Yeah, been there, done that.

But the parents we serve at OhioGuidestone also face many other factors. These lie well beyond the normal scope of distracted parenting. Many families face hard questions — and not from their children. Where will our next meal come from? What places are hiring and still within a reasonable bus commute? When will we have time to go to JFS? Will they cut off our utilities again? How will we pay our next phone bill?

Difficulty attaining and maintaining basic needs can strip parents of power. They may struggle to make the best choices for themselves and their families. Needs can include physical resources like food, transportation, shelter, and income. Or they can be intangibles like time for errands, work, and relaxation. More often than not, parents sacrifice themselves or their relationships. They hope that will give their children the best chance at a happy, fulfilling life. But children need their parents to be whole and healthy. The sacrifices that struggling parents make out of necessity are not conducive to health. Then this cycles back onto the children.

Ohioans experience low health value. Home visiting can help.

Recently, we learned from the Health Policy Institute of Ohio (HPIO) that our state ranks near the bottom in health value. In short, we have poor health outcomes, and we overpay for those outcomes.

graphic showing Ohio ranks 46th in health value

Copyright © 2019 Health Policy Institute of Ohio. All rights reserved.

In order to reverse this trend and “create opportunities for all Ohio children to thrive,” HPIO highlighted one of the main strategies to accomplish that goal: “Increase investment in evidence-based home visiting to ensure Ohio’s most at-risk families have access to services, including all families under 200 percent of the federal poverty level.”

This is and long has been a major focus of our work at OhioGuidestone. So, to help families become healthy, we utilize home-visiting programs. These include Help Me Grow, Early Intervention, and Parents as Teachers.

Most home-visiting support programs for parents can begin as soon as you are expecting a child. Once they’re enrolled in a program, caregivers may remain with it throughout the first few years of a child’s life. Knowledgeable staff not only can connect parents with vital resources but also provide individualized education and information about child development. We do this because we want parents have the best tools available to succeed in raising a child.

In addition, various home visiting programs can:

  • Provide early detection of developmental delays and health issues;
  • Prevent child abuse and neglect;
  • Promote and increase children’s school readiness and success;
  • Improve maternal and child health;
  • And encourage positive parenting.

Home visiting can promote whole health.

Some of us are lucky enough to be thrown baby showers when we are expecting. When that happens, we know we’re loved and supported. Likewise, loving, nurturing communities often surround less fortunate families, too. But those communities can’t always offer the financial and material support others enjoy. Through our services, we can help families find and gain access to a range of different support programs. Some even may be able to assist new parents with baby items such as car seats, strollers, cribs, and more.

Our home-visiting workers also give space and time for parents to ask questions and engage in conversation rather than just talk at them. We believe so strongly in the importance of healthy relationships. And, therefore, we strive to create those with our families through these programs.

At OhioGuidestone, we often pair home-visiting programs with our community-based mental health services. Whether the recipient is a parent, a child, or another household member, we know that wrap-around, holistic services and care are vital for families. Especially ones that have numerous, intersecting needs that outside individuals may or may not be able to observe. So by coming to families in their own homes, we strive to create safe and supportive relationships that empower families and, by extension, their communities. Through this, we hope to help them achieve their life and health goals. Because if the home is where the heart is, then that’s where we go to heal the heart, too.

The Institute of Family and Community Impact (IFCI) is an initiative of OhioGuidestone, Ohio’s largest behavioral health services provider. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date with our latest news, trainings, innovations, and more!

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