All parents can use a little help, even if they are experienced.
The Greenup County Health Department is expanding its Health Access Nurturing Development Services program with the receipt of a $20,000 grant.
The grant will allow the program, crafted originally for first-time parents, to be extended to families with older children. The grant will also allow the agency to hire an additional family support worker.
Beth Bell, a family support worker and parent visitor, said the agency hopes to enroll 38 new families by the end of the year. It is now serving about 70.
Expectant families are eligible during pregnancy and before the child is 3 months old. HANDS is voluntary, free to all income levels and open to Greenup County residents regardless of where they live.
HANDS is a home-based program. Workers visit weekly before birth and after until the child reaches his or her first birthday. The program then moves into a second phase, where visits are every other week. After the child’s second birthday, visits are once monthly before families graduate from the program.
“All families need a second pair of helping hands,” said Bell. “Parents are the most important people in a baby’s life, and they are the first and most important teachers that a child will have.
“Parenting is a very demanding job, and all parents have worries, questions and stress and we can help them with those. Our goal is to help them have a healthy pregnancy and birth, healthy child growth and development, healthy, safe homes and sufficient families.”
HANDS provides educational materials, including childproof checklists and growth and development guides.
“We have daily do’s, which are techniques for parents to get involved with the child on a daily basis, to help them be more successful as they grow up into adults,” she said. “We teach them (parents) how to bond with their child and provide them with enriching learning experiences.”
Bell said she teaches parents about child development, dealing with stress and how to create a safe and healthy home.
She can also help with referrals to other community programs.
“I would have loved to have had something like this,” said Bell, a mother. “It reinforces what a good parent you are.”
For more information about the HANDS program or to apply, call the health department at (606) 473-9838, ext. 129 or 130.
CARRIE STAMBAUGH can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2653.