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Parent-child duos complete health program

Oct. 28, 2013 @ 11:49 PM

HUNTINGTON -- Mountain State Healthy Families celebrated a landmark day Monday for two of its families.

Rebecca Britton and her 5-year-old son, Xytan, and Katherine Scroggins and her 5-year-old son, Nathaniel Pinkerton, graduated from their family support program. Both families reside in Huntington.

After more than five years of meetings with family support specialists providing parenting tips and child development education, they were presented their certificates Monday at First Presbyterian Church.

"If they were getting school hours for this, they would both have master's degrees," said Liz Lockhart, the family support worker who has been meeting with them since the beginning and giving them stacks of worksheets on child development. "We'll saturate you with child development information. It's there."

The free program is open to all pregnant mothers in Cabell, Wayne, Lincoln and Mason counties and new mothers with infants up to 1 month old. Right now, Mountain State Healthy Families serves about 140 families, said program coordinator Michelle Comer.

There are no age or income guidelines for mothers, just a desire to learn as much as you can to raise a happy, healthy child.

"We have (mothers who are) teenagers in school and older adults -- all ages," said Melanie Meade, another family support worker. "Babies don't come with instructions," Meade said, so they provide advice such as swaddling and soothing a newborn baby and do screenings to see if services such as Birth to 3 are necessary.

"If families need referrals to other services, we try to stay up-to-date on which are available and link them up," she said.

They also help mothers set and achieve goals to help support their families, she said, whether it's going to school or landing a job.

It starts with the mother and her family support worker not knowing each other at all to forming a strong bond.

"You're there for the tragic moments and the triumphs and you get the hugs," Lockhart said. As the kids get beyond 3 years old, you start to taper off and "push them out of the nest a little bit, like you do your own children," she said.

For more information about Mountain State Healthy Families in Cabell County, call 304-523-9587.

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