For April 2018 Release
Education: Parent Connection
He is our future. Your donation to United Way helps ensure it is bright.
Rachel spent a lot of time babysitting and being a nanny to four children when she was a teenager. However, she acknowledges that caring for her own son as a single mom at age 21 is a lot different than taking care of someone else’s child. Rachel was referred to Parent Connection about a month after her son Jacob was born when she was readmitted to the hospital with postpartum issues.
With the help of Parent Connection’s Family Support Specialist, Brenda, Rachel is gaining confidence in her ability to care for her son. Today, Jacob is a bright, independent 19 month-old, who is quickly developing a large vocabulary and likes to have his mother within earshot. He is also hitting or surpassing many of the expected developmental benchmarks.
In addition to the home visits, Rachel participates in group sessions with other parents. The groups, which also include other Support Specialists, center around a shared meal and an activity that parent and child can do together. In these settings, Rachel is often a leader among her peers, modeling the desired interactions with her son, which are so important in a child’s development. She is quick to get on the floor with Jacob and stack blocks, read to him, or ask him about colors.
She finds the group meetings helpful, especially when it quickly becomes clear to her that she isn’t the only one who sometimes feels uncertain about caring for her son. She admits that it “is a lot harder than I thought it would be, and it feels good to know I’m not the only one who sometimes has a hard time with it, like the worrying and decision making. I’m responsible for everything for him.”
Through the programs provided by Parent Connection, Rachel is finding joy in the hard work of parenting. When asked by Brenda what she enjoys most about her child, Rachel’s response is, “I love how Jacob enjoys interacting with me, and how he will bring a book to me and sit and read with me.” During this exchange, she is reminded by Brenda that this is a direct result of her actions shaping his interactions with her. By showing interest in what he is doing, Rachel gives him the confidence to interact more with her, to which Rachel responded, “I never thought of it that way.”
Because of the support from United Way, Parent Connection provided 2,153 home visits to new parents last year. During the visits, the Support Specialist works with Mom or Dad to guide them in caring for their children between the ages of birth to three years. These early experiences are critical to early brain development and well-being for the child, setting the stage for health and success for the rest of their life.
In addition to the home visits, Parent Connection provides parenting workshops throughout the year for new parents, or those looking to improve their parenting skills. All Parent Connection staff are college degreed professionals in the fields of Education, Human Services, Social Work, or other fields related to childhood development. In addition, all are trained in “Parents as Teachers,” a nationally recognized early brain development curriculum.
The reporting and data (evidence) regarding the importance of early brain development in children birth to five is mounting every day. Giving parents the tools to ensure their child receives the stimulation and interaction for this development is fundamental to the services Parent Connection provides.
It is the Difference YOU make as a donor to United Way.