Oh, Baby! Gainesville Sun

Babies don’t come with instruction manuals but home-visiting programs may be the next best thing

New parents have too much to do, and not enough time to do it all. They are learning what is best for baby and their own health during and after pregnancy, and there are so many questions.

Should my baby sleep on their back? How do I balance work and being a parent? Where can I turn for help?

Home visiting programs that offer family support services answer these questions and more. Programs are free to qualifying families and are based on the specific needs of parent and child. Through such programs, new moms can learn how to take care of baby and how to connect with and teach their child through play. Breastfeeding tips, making the home safe for baby and quitting smoking are also topics that can be addressed. Some parents work with the programs to develop career, educational or financial goals to improve their family life.

“Parenting is exciting and rewarding, but also challenging. Parents are a child’s first and most important teachers, but having some extra support can make the job, and life, a little easier, “ said Julie Moderie, who oversees the home visiting family support programs Healthy Start of North Central Florida and the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting program (MIECHV). Moderie is the program director for Healthy Start and COO of WellFlorida Council.

Many home visiting programs, such as MIECHV, are evidence-based, which means they’ve demonstrated over time that they work. By participating in MIECHV, families have shown improvements in economic self-sufficiency and have access to community resources and support. Moms and babies are healthier; and children in the program suffer fewer childhood injuries and are better prepared for school success.

“We help parents and primary caregivers gain knowledge and skills to encourage their child’s development, but we recognize each situation is different. We are here to help. The first few years of a child’s life are critical, and the parent educator visits and one-on-one support, provide a positive ripple effect through both a parent’s and child’s lives,” said Moderie.

For more information on the benefits of home visiting programs, go to MIECHV’s website at www.HelpingBabiesGrow.org and select “Why Home Visiting Works.” You can also learn more about the local Healthy Start program at www.HealthyStartNCF.org.


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