United Way In Focus-Healthy Families Hendry/Glades

A Health Families Hendry/Glades family and their Family Support Worker, Claudia Gallegos.

Becoming a parent can be exciting as well as challenging. Families are not alone! Hendry and Glades County residents can take advantage of a program that helps expecting and new parents learn skills and deal with the challenges of being a new parent. The program serves approximately 125 families in Hendry and Glades counties.

Healthy Families is a voluntary parent coaching and support program that helps parents be the best they can be. The program is nationally accredited, and is proven to improve childhood outcomes and increase family self-sufficiency by empowering parents through education and community support. Parents choose to participate in Healthy Families so they can learn how to recognize and respond to their baby’s changing developmental needs, use positive discipline techniques, cope with the day-to-day stress of parenting in healthy ways, and set and achieve short- and long-term goals. Services begin during pregnancy or shortly after the birth of a child and can continue for up to five years.

The program provides families with useful information based on the latest research in child development. Home visitors support parents in their role as their child’s first and most important teacher. Home visit topics are accompanied by fun activities to encourage play and promote learning. Activities help parents learn how to build their baby’s brains and support healthy development across multiple domains, including language and communication skills, problem-solving, social-emotional and motor skills. For example, home visitors encourage parents to promote language development through an activity called “Play by Play”, which is simply narrating everyday moments and using words to describe what a child is doing and experiencing.

In addition, support workers provide families with information on:
• How their baby will grow and develop
• Positive discipline options
• Well baby care and immunization schedules
• How to find community services for the family

The best way to illustrate what Healthy Families does is an actual client story. This is Cheryl’s story.

“My name is Cheryl and I am a parent of Healthy Families. I have been a client for about 5 years since my second son was born. Lenor is my home visitor and throughout the time I have been in the program she has been an awesome inspiration. Every time I needed help, she has gone out of her way to do everything possible to get the help or advice I needed, and does it with a welcoming smile, and very is friendly. My kids love her and are always so excited to see her. When I started the program I was without work and basically homeless. But, as years have gone by, every goal I have made with Lenor, I have basically completed or made it better. Thanks for all the referrals and advice given by the home visitor. The program has changed my life, and I am finally back on my feet, working and providing for my family. This program has given me more confidence to succeed and to be a better mother. The overall success from this program has brought to me the ability to bond and to learn from my children. Many thanks to this program and to my home visitor Lenor for all you have done for me and my family. I would most definitely recommend this program to other parents as well. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

For more information, you can contact Vanessa Fischel of Healthy Families Hendry and Glades by phone at (863) 674-4041. In February, Healthy Families will hold its annual graduation ceremonies in LaBelle and Clewiston. This event will celebrate the accomplishments of 15 families who have successfully completed the Healthy Families program. The LaBelle event will take place at Hope Connections, another United Way partner agency.

The Hendry & Glades United Way Campaign has started. Our goal this year is to raise $322,400. Your gift to your local United Way helps 27 local agencies provide vital services to the people of Hendry and Glades counties. These agencies include Abuse Counseling and Treatment (ACT), Alvin A. Dubin Alzheimer’s Resource Center, Harry Chapin Food Bank, Healthy Families, Hope Connections, The Salvation Army, Literacy Council of the Gulf Coast, the YMCA and many more.

Please consider giving to your local United Way. If you live in Hendry and Glades counties, your gift helps the people of these communities. Please give today by returning a pledge card from your workplace, or give securely on line at www.UnitedWayLee.org, and place in the note space: Hendry and Glades Campaign.

To reach the United Way Hendry Glades Manager, call (239)-433-7559. People in need of information and referral assistance to health and human services should contact United Way 211. Simply dial 2-1-1, or (800) 887-9234, or visit the United Way website at www.UnitedWayLee.org.

The Caloosa Belle is published every Thursday.

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