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Thumbs up: Healthy Families initiative helps local at-risk families

Oct. 30, 2013 @ 12:12 AM

Babies do not come with instructions.

For many moms and dads, advice and help in child rearing comes from family — their own parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters.  That support network plays a tremendous role in the development of children, making sure they are healthy, well adjusted and ultimately prepared for school and the world beyond.

But not everyone has that extra help.

Whether it’s a young single mother or other circumstances, too many parents are on their own and in great need of information, advice and support. One of the groups that helps provide that in our region is Mountain State Healthy Families, which provides free program services for new mothers.

Women can enter the program when they are pregnant and with infants up to one month old, and the help continues for years. This week, two families were honored at a graduation ceremony in Huntington, marking five years with the family support program.

As one of the educators noted, the time devoted was almost equivalent to a master’s degree in parenting.

Healthy Families America is a national home visiting program funded through federal, state and private dollars, and the local Mountain State program is operated through TEAM West Virginia and currently serves 140 families. In addition to extensive child development instruction, Healthy Families also provides referrals to other services that a growing family might need.

That is an important investment in preventing problems with neglect and maltreatment and providing a nurturing environment that leads to a healthier and more productive life.
 

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