FREMONT – As more needs arise in caring for premature babies and those born with developmental disabilities, Sandusky County Health Commissioner Bethany Brown is encouraging mothers to take advantage of free local programming.
Help Me Grow is an evidence-based parents support program that encourages early prenatal and well-baby care, as well as parenting education to promote the comprehensive health and development of young children.
“Over a thousand visits were made in 2017 and I’m sure there’s more than that in 2018. We usually have around 280 to 300 referrals a year for this program,” Brown said. “And at any given time, we have about 70 families involved in the program.”
One in 10 children in the United States was born premature in 2016, Brown said.
“It’s important to catch these delays or issues early so then we can help with developmental delays, and hopefully by the time the kids are in preschool that they have the skills that they need to be successful in school,” said Brown.
“The same with parenting,” she said. “We’re really trying to work with parents that might not have had support in the past and we’ll guide them through challenges they might be having.”
Help Me Grow is a free, voluntary family support program for pregnant women or new parents.
“We can pick up moms but during pregnancy is the best time to get involved in the program because they (Help Me Grow) help them throughout the pregnancy and give them skills to help deal with any issues the infant might have when they are born,” said Brown
The home visitors are well-trained and help empower parents with the skills, tools and confidence to nurture the healthy growth of their children.
The Help Me Grow program’s goals are improvement in maternal and newborn health, reduction in child injuries, abuse, and neglect, improved school readiness and achievement, reduction in crime and domestic violence, and improved family economic self-sufficiency.
“This is a really important program. We catch those kids early and get them the services they need so that they can grow and develop appropriately,” said Brown.
The health department believes all young children deserve the same opportunities to realize their full potential in life, regardless of economic, geographic, and demographic considerations.
When a parent schedules a home visit with Help Me Grow, they will have the opportunity to share their thoughts about parenting, ask questions, and receive reliable information based on their individual family needs or topics of interest.
Other programs like Help Me Grow are available at no cost through Sandusky County as well. In the past the Mom’s Quit for Two program, geared towards encouraging women to quit smoking, have used incentives like a diaper stipend to stop them from smoking while pregnant.
Anyone interested in Help Me Grow or may know of a family who may benefit from this program can call the health department at 419-334-6377.
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